Major conservation group blasts GOP tax bill for allowing Arctic drilling: 'Simply shameful'

Major conservation group blasts GOP tax bill for allowing Arctic drilling: 'Simply shameful'
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A major conservation group is blasting the newly passed Senate GOP tax bill for allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), calling the bill “simply shameful.”

“Opening the Arctic to drilling as part of this tax plan is simply shameful. The Arctic Refuge isn’t a bank—drilling there won’t pay for the tax cuts the Senate just passed,” National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold said in a statement Saturday.

“The American people don’t support drilling in the Arctic and it’s up to the House to reject this flawed bill."

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The Republican tax bill included a provision to open up a section of ANWR to oil drilling for the first time.

Democrats attempted to stop the provision in a late-night amendment vote, but that effort was shot down by Senate Republicans.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Trump nominee won't say if he supports funding agency he was selected to run MORE (R-Alaska) argued that the provision would create jobs as well as “protect an environment that as Alaskans we know how to protect.”

The Audubon Society pushed back against that claim, citing dozens of Arctic wildlife scientists who united in opposition to the drilling expansion last week.

“By making oil and gas drilling a primary purpose of the wildlife refuge and mandating an 800,000-acre oil and gas program, Senator Murkowski’s bill effectively undermines the environmental and wildlife protections that typically apply to oil and gas development on federal lands,” the group said.

The Senate passed the bill just before 2 a.m. Saturday, voting 51-49 on the legislation to overhaul the tax code and capping off days of GOP leaders frantically working to secure the necessary 50 votes to pass the bill.

The bill would lower tax rates for individuals through 2025 and permanently cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The bill’s tax cuts for individuals are temporary in order to comply with budget rules that the measure can’t add to the deficit after 10 years.

The bill would also repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate.