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Adam Kolton, 53, Dies; Led Fight to Protect Alaskan Refuge

  • May 03, 2021

“He was the mastermind of the strategy for Arctic defense for 20 years,” said Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, where Mr. Kolton worked from 2002 to 2017. “His fingerprints were on everything.”

The Alaska Wilderness League hired Mr. Kolton in 1997, and several years later helped beat back efforts by congressional Republicans, supported by the administration of President George W. Bush, to allow exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the coastal plain.

At one point Republicans tried to insert a drilling provision into a budget bill. That went nowhere because some moderate Republicans favored keeping the refuge protected.

Mr. Kolton remained wary, concerned that Republicans might try “sneaking” a provision into other legislation, as he told The New York Times. “There are unfortunately numerous ways they could try to defy the will of the American people,” he said.

Adam Michael Kolton was born on Feb. 20, 1968, in Chicago and raised in Westfield, N.J., where his mother, Carol (Abt) Kolton, was a social worker and his father, Chet Kolton, was president of a plastics and packaging manufacturer. Adam graduated from the University of Wisconsin, majoring in history and journalism.

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