ANWR drilling bill passes Congress


President Donald Trump congratulates Sen. Lisa Murkowski on passage of a bill to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.  Rep. Don Young and Sen. Dan Sullivan flank Murkowski at the mic. (White House video screenshot)

Alaska’s members of Congress are celebrating their success in opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

“We finally got it done.” Congressman Don Young said minutes after the bill passed the House Wednesday afternoon. Young dates the start of his work on the issue to battles over the Alaska land bill of 1980. He calls the victory long overdue.

For Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ANWR fight is a family legacy. She left the Capitol early Wednesday, after the Senate voted to pass the bill.

“It was on my way out, I gave my dad a call,” Murkowski said.

Lisa’s father, Frank Murkowski, held the office before her. He and then-Sen. Ted Stevens worked year after year to try to pass an ANWR bill. Lisa Murkowski said her father told her he was proud.

“He did say, ‘You did something I couldn’t do and Ted couldn’t do, so good for you. One of these days you’re going make something of yourself,'” Murkowski said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan said he was happy to be a member of the team that got it done. He also gave credit to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House.

Environmentalists are not giving up. A coalition of 18 groups issued a statement vowing to fight in court, in corporate boardrooms and in Congress to restore the protections that kept oil development out of the refuge for 37 years.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

Previous articleTundra Vision presents: The Story of an Alaskero
Next articleUnalaska mayoral recall petition delivered to city hall