House panel votes to stop oil drilling in Arctic refuge

House panel votes to stop oil drilling in Arctic refuge

A House panel approved a bill Wednesday that would block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), advancing a key Democratic priority.

The bill approved by Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee repeals a controversial provision included in President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE’s 2017 tax law.

The provision opened up the sought-after Alaskan land to oil and gas drilling, prompting backlash from environmentalists who have long used protecting the area as a rallying cry.

Republicans have hailed the passage of drilling in ANWR, saying it will significantly bolster economic prosperity and boost the nation's energy independence. 

 

“This bill reflects a simple proposition, and that is there are some places too wild, too important, too special to be spoiled by oil and gas development. The Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain is one of those special places,” the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment WHIP LIST: Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump MORE (D-Calif.), said in a statement.
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“In the face of climate change, let’s not mess up one of the few good things that are still going.”

The bill may now proceed to the House floor for a vote, though it is unclear if such a vote might take place.

If passed, the bill would face significant hurdles in the Republican-lead Senate, which committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said snuck drilling provisions into the tax bill.

“We have to provide the American people with a choice, a bet to save ANWR. I don’t know how [Republicans] are going to defend it. They did it in the middle of the night; they stuck it to a bill it didn’t belong in. No hearings, nothing,” Grijalva said. “They did it in a very sneaky way, underhanded way, so what we did today was out in the open, we had a good debate about it."

Republicans have strongly pushed back on accusations they snuck the ANWR language in the tax measure. 

Huffman’s bill would revert the refuge to the protected status it had prior to 2017.

“It doesn’t roll back oil and gas development elsewhere in the state, it doesn’t shut down activities in the neighboring National Petroleum Reserve, it does nothing to go after the existing jobs in oil and gas,” Huffman emphasized. “It simply says you can’t expand into this one special place.”