US House votes to block drilling in Arctic Refuge; bill unlikely to become law

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to close the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.

But, as Alaska Congressman Don Young pointed out, there’s almost no chance the Senate will pass it.

“You’re wasting our time,” the Republican representative told drilling opponents during the floor debate. “It will not go anywhere. That’s why I’m not going to get really excited and go over there and — never mind.”

The vote, though, shows House Democrats are still trying to slow the Trump administration’s momentum on bringing industrial development to the refuge in northeastern Alaska.

There were 225 members who voted to block oil development in the refuge, while 193 voted against the bill. Four Republicans crossed the aisle to vote “yes.” Five Democrats were among the “no” votes.

So far, it’s produced no sign of a pause from the Trump administration. A few hours after the House vote, the Bureau of Land Management released its final environmental report on oil leasing in the refuge. Officials said they plan to hold the first ANWR lease sale by the end of the year.

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