The Anchorage Daily News reports how “opponents of oil drilling in ANWR – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – are going on the offense after playing defense for a quarter of a century.

They want the new Democratic Congress to make an oft-challenged drilling ban permanent.

Legislation introduced in the House on Friday would make the oil-rich 1.2-million-acre coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a permanently protected wilderness and end repeated efforts to open the area east of the Prudhoe oil field to energy companies”.

“The consensus is that there should not be drilling in the refuge, so the logical next step is to pass legislation which turns it into a wilderness,” Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chief sponsor of the legislation, told the Daily News. “We now have a majority of House members that have publicly said they oppose any drilling in the refuge. In the previous Congress, we were battling the Republicans in the majority who wanted to drill.”

“Our addiction to oil is real, (but) drilling in the refuge would amount to a declaration that we remain in denial about this addiction,” he said. “There are some places in our world that are so rare and so special that we have a responsibility to protect them.”