The tax bill included a measure to open a 1.5-million-acre coastal section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
The measure, written by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, requires the federal government to hold two lease sales within seven years in a 1.5-million-acre section of the coastal plain. The first lease sale must be held within four years, and could lead to drilling and oil production.
Alaska’s congressional delegation hailed the approval of the provision as a momentous victory after about four decades of failed attempts to open the coastal plain. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill.
“This is a watershed moment for Alaska and all of America,” Murkowski said in a prepared statement from the delegation. “We have fought to open the 1002 Area for a very long time, and now, our day has finally arrived.”
The “1002 area” is the coastal section as named in the 1980 law that set the area aside for possible development, with the approval of Congress and the White House.
“This is a major victory for Alaska that will help us fulfill the promises of our statehood and give us renewed hope for growth and prosperity,” she said.
Reaction on Twitter had the obvious mixed emotions:
The legislation includes a section of mine, which contains an important step in creating new economic opportunities by opening up the non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR for responsible energy development.
As an homage to the late AK Sen Ted Stevens, AK Sen Murkowski dons an Incredible Hulk scarf for Senate tax vote. Stevens always wore an Incredible Hulk tie for big votes. Drilling in Arctic Nat’l Wildlife Refuge is in the bill, a Stevens priority pic.twitter.com/GCFObtgdLJ
GOP is about to vote for a tax bill that opens #ArcticRefuge to drilling to “offset national debt.” This will have next to no effect on budget but many negative consequences for tribes, wildlife & national heritage. This fight isn’t over. #ProtectTheArctichttps://t.co/yBSIxX4K7e
We're about to open up 20 million acres of some of the wildest land on Earth to oil drilling. A measure allowing that is buried in the tax cut bill. Our @NatGeo photos show you what's at stake in #ANWRhttps://t.co/yvAM4HsVcM