Congress votes to open Alaska refuge to oil well drilling

The Republican tax bill includes a provision that would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling. It’s a blow to environmental groups, but many Alaskans hope the move will bring revenue to the state as the state is rich with Oil.

The House voted 224-201, mostly along party lines, to pass the Republicans’ tax overhaul bill, which has the ANWR drilling provision attached to it.

It followed the Senate’s 51-48 vote along party lines early Wednesday morning to pass the bill. The House had passed it earlier Tuesday as well, before the GOP had to make small changes to comply with rules allowing for a 51-vote passage in the Senate as a budget reconciliation measure.

No Democrats voted for the bill on Tuesday, and only 12 House Republicans voted against it.

Once President Trump signs the legislation, Alaska leaders, Republicans and the oil industry will have accomplished a goal at the top of their energy priorities.

“Some people have been working here since I was in the second grade on this project,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on the House floor Tuesday, pointing to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the longest-serving member of Congress, who has made ANWR drilling a priority since he arrived in 1973. Young cheered back.

“After decades and decades in this chamber, we are opening up a small non-wilderness area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for responsible development. That is the most ambitious step we have taken in years to secure our own energy future,” Ryan said.

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