The Senate voted down a Democrat push Thursday to block oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, The Hill reported.
Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington sponsored an amendment to the Senate’s budget resolution that would block development on the refuge that she, and many other Democrats, consider too environmentally sensitive to allow oil drilling.
“The notion that we, tonight, after 60-plus years, would give up what is a biologically important area, a critical habitat for polar bears, a breeding ground for caribou, migratory birds and over 200 species — for what? For oil we don’t need?” Cantwell said on the Senate floor, according to The Hill.
The Senate passed the budget resolution, minus Cantwell’s amendment, 51-49 along party lines.
Oil development in the ANWR has been banned for nearly four decades. A provision in the budget resolution mandates the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to find ways to save $1 billion over 10 years. While passing the budget has opened up ANWR, oil drilling in the area is not an inevitability.
“Yes – opening the non-wilderness 1002 area to development is an option to meet the instructions to the energy committee. But it is not the only option. But I will tell you it is the best option. And it is on the table,” GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said.
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