Week ahead: Arctic drilling measure nears finish line
Congress is expected to vote in the coming week on final passage of Republicans’ tax-reform bill, which would also open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and natural gas drilling.
The conference committee responsible for reconciling the House and Senate tax bills — which includes top ANWR drilling proponents Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) — is due to unveil their final bill late Friday, setting up potential votes for next week.
Murkowski and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have said ANWR drilling would be in the legislation.
Since the bill is being considered under budget reconciliation rules, it only needs 51 votes to pass.
Some House Republicans expressed concern about opening up ANWR, but in recent days have said its inclusion in the tax bill would not be a deal breaker.
The GOP is eager to pass the tax bill before Christmas to secure a major legislative victory for the year.
Under the initial proposal that passed the Senate, the Interior Department would be required to hold at least two auctions for drilling rights leases in ANWR’s Coastal Plain area in the next 10 years.
The vote would cap off decades of advocacy by most Alaska leaders, some Alaska Native groups, the oil industry, Republicans and others to open up ANWR for drilling.
Environmentalists have been furiously fighting the proposal at every step, arguing that drilling would be devastating for AWNR’s ecology, its imperiled fauna and the climate.
But greens and Democrats have recognized that their time and options for stopping drilling are running out, particularly since the drilling provision is in a budget bill.
The Senate also could act on Trump administration nominees who are pending before the year ends.
The nominees still in the Senate’s hopper include Andrew Wheeler to be the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy administrator, Kathleen Hartnett White to be chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, Barry Myers to be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) administrator and Jim Bridenstine to be NASA’s administrator.
A Senate panel cleared Myers on Wednesday. Myers was, until recently, the CEO of AccuWeather, Inc., which he co-founded. The company provides weather forecasting information similar to the National Weather Service, which NOAA oversees. Democrats had raised concerns that Myers would be conflicted.
House chairman invites Patagonia CEO to testify on monuments
Zinke reprimanded park head after climate tweets
Time running out for opponents of Arctic drilling
EPA moves toward updating lead water pipe standards
Zinke promises ‘zero tolerance’ after 35% of Interior employees report harassment
Trump’s EPA chemical safety nominee withdraws nomination
Final GOP tax bill would allow Arctic refuge drilling
Senate panel clears Trump’s nominee for NOAA
Watchdog: Trump officials improperly withheld funds for advanced energy office
EPA watchdog to probe Pruitt’s $25,000 privacy booth
Feds: Arctic saw record-low sea ice, second warmest year on record
Emails: Disney annoyed by Obama push to use ‘Frozen’ brand
Feds push court to dismiss children climate change lawsuit
Energy commissioner undaunted by delay in Perry coal rule consideration
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.