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Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is now open for drilling as a result of a recent congressional vote on the issue, which ended over forty years of debate on the future of the conserved lands.
The House voted 224-201 in favor of allowing drilling in the ANWR, mostly along party lines. The provision was part of the Republicans’ tax overhaul bill, which President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law.
“After decades and decades in this chamber, we are opening up a small non-wilderness area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for responsible development. That is the most ambitious step we have taken in years to secure our own energy future,” Speaker Paul Ryan said.
Trump boasted about the accomplishment during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, according to The Hill.
“We’re going to start drilling in ANWR, one of the largest oil reserves in the world, that for 40 years this country was unable to touch. That by itself would be a massive bill,” Trump told journalists in Washington. “They’ve been trying to get that, the Bushes, everybody. All the way back to Reagan, Reagan tried to get it. Bush tried to get it. Everybody tried to get it,” he added. “They couldn’t get it passed. That just happens to be here.”
Drilling in ANWR has been extremely controversial and a highly partisan issue, something that Democrats and Republicans have fought over for years, across multiple administrations. It’s a gamble that will certainly run into lawsuits from environmental groups who will fight tooth and nail to keep drillers away from the unspoiled wilderness.
“ANWR is an American Serengeti. You can have the oil. Or you can have this pristine place. You can’t have both. No compromise,” Robert Mrazek, a former New York congressman and chair emeritus of the Alaska Wilderness League, told Fortune earlier this year.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…