ANWR drilling clears another hurdle in Congress

Environmental groups held an anti-drilling rally at the Capitol Oct. 17, 2017. Photo: Liz Ruskin.

The U.S. House has passed the Senate’s budget resolution, and with it the seeds of legislation that could open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Listen now

The resolution itself has no force of law but it tells committees in the House and Senate to draw up a bill that includes tax cuts. It also instructs the Senate Energy Committee to find at least $1 billion in savings or revenues. Sen. Lisa Murkowski chairs that committee and she says the best way to fulfill that directive is by opening ANWR. She has scheduled a hearing on that for Nov. 2.

Drilling advocates want ANWR included in the budget reconciliation bill because that kind of bill can’t be filibustered, so it would need only 51 votes to pass the Senate.

Environmental groups, and the Gwich’in Steering Committee, are preparing for legislative battle. They dispute claims that drilling won’t damage the coastal plain of the refuge.

“The Gwich’in Nation will continue to fight until the Arctic Refuge is taken out of the budget bill, as we have done for decades,” Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, said in a written statement.  “Drilling will hurt the lands, my people and the caribou.”

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

Previous articleMan charged in shooting death at Prince of Wales logging camp
Next articleTrump’s opioid disaster declaration could expand help to suffering Alaskans