Senate votes down effort to block drilling in Alaska refuge

Senate votes down effort to block drilling in Alaska refuge
© Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday defeated a Democratic attempt to block oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

A group of Democrats, led by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats request info on 'repeated environmental concerns' at Ohio pipeline Booker to stop accepting donations from corporate PACs Gillibrand vows to refuse donations from corporate PACs MORE (Wash.), offered an amendment to the Senate’s budget resolution looking to prevent potential drilling in the Alaska refuge as a way to raise revenue for the federal government.

Most Democrats and environmentalists consider the refuge in northern Alaska to be too environmentally sensitive to allow oil drilling there, a position pushed by Cantwell and others as debate on the budget moved forward this week.


“The notion that we, tonight, after 60-plus years, would give up what is a biologically important area, a critical habitat for polar bears, a breeding ground for caribou, migratory birds and over 200 species — for what? For oil we don’t need?” Cantwell said during floor debate late Thursday.

But Republicans said they wouldn’t take the possibility of drilling off the table as the GOP looks to raise revenue and boost the American energy sector.

“Those who would support this amendment will deny us the opportunity to do something constructive in this country, when it comes to our opportunities to produce energy, to produce wealth,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Alaska) said.

“We need to be expanding energy development in our federal areas. This helps us reduce our deficit, to build more wealth in this country, to strengthen our national security, our competitiveness,” she said.

The amendment failed 52-48, with Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W.Va.) voting against it. Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (Maine) supported the amendment.

The Senate’s budget directs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to pass legislation raising $1 billion over the next 10 years.

The document doesn’t authorize drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s the most likely way to reach the $1 billion total.

President Trump and many Republican leaders support potentially drilling for oil in the refuge, and the White House’s budget proposal called for raising $1.8 billion in revenue through the endeavor.