Environmentalists are warning that the Republican plan to cut taxes could include a move that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
A draft of the Senate budget plan for 2018 is likely to emerge next week. No one expects the document to mention the Arctic Refuge by name. Lydia Weiss of The Wilderness Society said she’s concerned it will include vague instructions to the Senate Energy Committee to find a billion dollars or more in revenues.
“There is no doubt that that is an invitation to Sen. Murkowski to attach an Arctic Refuge drilling rider,” Weiss told reporters Wednesday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski chairs the energy committee. Opening the refuge to drilling is a top priority for her, as it’s been for Alaska’s congressional delegation for 40 years.
Neither her office nor Sen. Dan Sullivan’s answered questions about the strategy Wednesday. Murkowski had little to say about it, according to reporters who caught up with her.
“I have heard rumors from many of you, but I have not heard that anything has been confirmed,” Murkowski says on ANWR in Senate FY18 budget.
— Jeremy Dillon (@jeremydillonCQ) September 27, 2017
Weiss and other environmentalists say ANWR doesn’t belong in the budget.
“Drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is wildly unpopular, and always has been across the Lower 48,” Weiss said. “This is America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is public, federal land. It belongs to all of us.”
But ANWR could hold a lot of oil, and the idea of exploring it has a lot of support in Alaska.
The Trump administration has revived hopes for development. The Interior Department is trying to allow 3-D seismic work on the coastal plain.
If ANWR is included in the 2018 budget reconciliation package, it would only need 50 votes to pass in the Senate, because that kind of bill can’t be filibustered.
Several Republican senators oppose ANWR drilling, along with nearly all the Democrats, so passage is not assured.
- With a surge in vehicle thefts in Anchorage, some residents are taking matters into their own hands. One group mobilizing through Facebook is reuniting stolen vehicles with their owners. Members of the A Team, as they call themselves, say they are filling a void left by overworked police.
- The Haines area used to be a Tlingit stronghold, ruled by an alliance between the prosperous Chilkat and Chilkoot people. A new Haines Sheldon Museum exhibit explores how the Native territory gradually gave way to white settlement in the late 1800s. The exhibit will anchor the museum’s upstairs space for at least two years.
- "If this technology goes the way that leading experts are predicting, we could see the entire corridor as a freeway could be autonomous by 2040,” said transportation consultant Scott Kuznicki.
- Concerns over animal welfare have led to changes in recent years in how livestock are raised. But seafood has been missing from the conversation. One group aims to change that.