Political Implications - Historical Background
1959 Alaska became a state.
1960 The northeast corner of Alaska named a Wildlife Range by the Federal Government.
1960s Alaskan Natives filed land claims with the Federal Government.
1966 The Federal government froze all federal lands in Alaska. The state, natives, and other organizations were unable to claim over 96% of the land in Alaska. This freeze allowed the Federal Government to settle the outstanding Native Claims before Alaska and private interest groups could claim the land that Natives wanted.
1968 Oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Drilling was prohibited because of the land freeze, so pressure was put on the Federal Government to settle the Native Claims.
1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed by US Congress. This Act ended the land freeze in Alaska because it settled the Native Claims. Native Corporations were formed to govern the lands in the best interests of the company shareholders.
1980 Alaska Native Interest Land Claims Act (ANILCA) was passed by US Congress. ANILCA created present day ANWR and designated 13 million of the 19 million acres in ANWR as wilderness. Section 1002 excluded the Coastal Plain from wilderness status, leaving it available for further study and possible resource development. Section 1003 stated that Congress had to approve any development within the 1002 area.
1980s Following the passage of ANILCA, the opening of the Coastal Plain to drilling was under heavy debate in Congress. The oil crisis during the 1970s led to the desire of policymakers to secure a domestic oil supply in case of a similar occurrence.
1989 The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred. The Congressional Republicans' hopes of opening ANWR met renewed resistance from the Democratic Party, which was against the idea of drilling in the first place.
1992-2000 President Clinton's vow to veto any measure that allowed for drilling ended any debate by Congress about opening ANWR.
2000 President Bush declared that he would pass a measure for opening ANWR. The debate for opening ANWR was renewed.