One of the outcomes from Donald Trump’s first big legislative victory is the permission to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
As part of President Trumps’ pledge to reform tax bills, which also aims to benefit the wealthy, Republicans won a majority vote (52-48 against the Democrats) this morning to drill in the 19.6 million acre nature reserve.
The bill, which was passed by the US Senate, was an achievement for Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is also chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Washington’s Democratic Senator, Maria Cantwell, led the opposition to block drilling in Alaska and amend the Republican’s legislation but was rejected.
Previously the Democrats had been successful in blocking the legislation, which Senator Mukowski has pushed for during every term she’s served. However thanks to Trump’s firebrand politics she was able to successfully past it this time.
Speaking to The Washington Examiner before the vote Senator Mukowski said:
This small package offers a tremendous opportunity for Alaska, for the Gulf Coast, and for all of our nation.
We have authorised responsible energy development in the 1002 area.
Due to the majority hold the Republican Party has on congress, as well as the Oval Office, they have been motivated to push forward with the tax reform bill, adding the provisions for drilling in Alaska’s northeastern wildlife refuge. It’s currently hailed as ‘one of the most pristine areas’ in America.
It’s also home to a population of polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife – all of whom could be potentially displaced now that big oil companies are allowed to drill in the nature reserve. According to The Independent there is ‘billions of barrels of crude oil’ lying underneath the refuge, which is known as ‘1002 area’.
Also speaking to The Washington Examiner before the bill was passed, Senator Cantwell, who also sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee said:
We don’t think this has been a fair and open process.
The only way they have been able to get any place on this issue is to throw away the regular process.
Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society, who run campaigns for Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge, added:
… sacrificing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has absolutely no place in a tax bill.
outrageous that some politicians will do anything to sneak this sell-out past the American people.
It’s outrageous that the oil lobby and their allies in Congress are trying to destroy the crown jewel of America’s wildlife refuge system after nearly four decades of bipartisan support for protecting it.
Fortunately, this fight isn’t over, and we are committed to fighting this legislation every step of the way.
The coastal plain is vital habitat for wolves, musk oxen, threatened polar bears, and the Porcupine Caribou Herd. It has value far beyond whatever oil might lie beneath it.
As mentioned before, the passing of Trump’s tax reform bill is a major win for his administration which has been dogged in controversy the moment he took office.
After scoring this win it’s likely he will now be setting his sights on repealing The Affordable Healthcare Act.