Lawmakers renew push for drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Petroleum drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was not a consideration under President Barack Obama, but it's getting renewed attention under the new administration.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and other members of the state's congressional delegation are pushing legislation to allow drilling in the coastal plain of the refuge.

Congress in 1980 expanded the refuge but declared that 2,300 square miles of the coastal plain be studied for natural resources. Congress can open it to exploration and production.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates it holds 10.4 billion barrels of oil and possibly more.

Critics say the coastal plain is important habitat for polar bears and the vast Porcupine Caribou Herd. They want the coastal plain managed as wilderness.

Murkowski says caribou and oil development can co-exist as is demonstrated in other areas of northern Alaska.

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