Energy & Environment

House Democrat introduces bill to block oil drilling near polar bear dens

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Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) has proposed a new bill aiming to prevent oil and gas drilling near polar bear dens, targeting the Trump administration’s plans to open up a wildlife refuge in Alaska for drilling.

The bill, introduced Thursday, would prohibit oil and gas exploration within one mile of a polar bear maternal denning habitat.

“Proposed oil exploration would further threaten this species, crushing and destroying their dens and cause some mother polar bears to abandon their maternity dens leaving any surviving cubs to perish,” Huffman said in a statement on the proposal.

The Interior Department has found that drilling activity in an Alaska area called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR,) wouldn’t harm polar bears.

However, Huffman and other Democrats recently wrote a letter arguing that the agency’s assessment was not sufficiently thorough.

A provision in a 2017 tax bill opened the ANWR to drilling following years of debate over the matter and the Trump administration has since taken steps to advance drilling there. 

On Wednesday, while delivering a speech on energy, President Trump touted his administration’s moves to open up the refuge to drilling as one of many deregulatory actions taken by his administration. 

“We ended the war on American energy and we stopped the far-left assault on American energy workers,” he said.

The new legislation would likely face hurdles in the Republican-held Senate. However, Democrats have also recently targeted ANWR drilling by including provisions to block it in a spending bill. 

Tags Alaska Alaska refuge ANWR Donald Trump Drilling Jared Huffman Trump administration
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