Friday, September 10, 2010

Alaska GOP Candidate Pledges to 'Take Power' -- and Land -- From Federal Government

Joe Miller, Alaska's Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, says he came to the 49th state 16 years ago to slake his love for the outdoors, seeking opportunities to hunt and fish Alaska's abundant wildlands. The problem, says the Yale Law School graduate and Gulf War veteran, is that most of those lands remain in the tight grasp of the federal government, which has prevented the state from tapping its vast natural resource base. The answer, according to Miller, is for Alaska to take over management of those federal lands -- including national parks -- and seek responsible development of oil and gas, minerals and timber that could help wean the state off of its dependence on federal subsidies. "The resource base in this state is extraordinary," Miller recently told CBS's "Face the Nation." By handing lands over to Alaska, the federal government would take a huge step toward shrinking the national deficit by shifting the cost of managing those lands to state agencies, Miller said. Federal lands cover roughly two-thirds of the state, but generate virtually no mineral royalties from onshore production. Miller's calls echo the sentiment of the Sagebrush Rebellion that swept through parts of the West in the late 1970s after Congress adopted a new policy allowing land disposals only if it served the national interest. The rebellion took off in 1979 with the Nevada General Assembly's passage of a bill calling for state control of lands held by the Bureau of Land Management, but had largely petered out by the early 1980s. Miller has said there is no constitutional basis for the federal government to own lands in his state that, when combined, are larger than the state of Texas...more

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