The two pieces of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge legislation introduced in Congress so far are polar opposites. One, offered by Rep. Don Young (R) of Alaska, would open the area to full leasing and waive requirements for environmental impact statements. The other, introduced by Rep. Morris K. Udall (D) of Arizona, would designate the coastal plain as wilderness, prohibiting development, roads, and motor vehicles. Both are likely to be upstaged by legislation being drafted by the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, chaired by Rep. Walter B. Jones (D) of North Carolina, who seeks to find the middle ground between the two extremes.
Ed Welch, staff director for the committee, says the bill is likely to allow oil exploration. It also will change the apportionment of royalties from 90 percent for the state of Alaska and 10 percent for the federal government so that as much as 50 percent goes to Washington. Most of that money would go to conserve or acquire valuable land elsewhere.
Some of the oil-rich land might be swapped to Alaskan natives for lands they now hold elsewhere in the state.