On Sunday morning, President Barack Obama announced he will ask Congress to designate an additional 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, putting it off-limits to energy companies seeking to drill there.
ANWR has perennially sparked conflict between Democrats and Republicans. But most people know little about it beyond its location (Alaska) and its size (big).
In fact, the wildlife refuge stretches across more than 19 million acres — making it larger than many states. And while drillers are only interested in a smaller portion known as the "1002 Area," that's still a sizable chunk of land, weighing in at 1.5 million acres.
Proponents say companies could tap massive resources with operations on just a small fraction of that acreage. But environmentalists say it would disturb wildlife, fragment their fragile habitat and create a major risk of spills.
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