New Bill Could Block Trump’s Push To Open 19.6 Million-Acre Alaskan Wilderness Up For Oil, Gas Exploration

(SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Daniel Baldwin Contributor
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Lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would halt drilling at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by delegating the coastal plains as “wilderness.”

The legislation received bi-partisan support, with Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman and Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick co-sponsoring it.

Former President Donald Trump issued leases for oil and gas exploration on nine pieces of land within ANWR on his last day in office, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Markey blasted this last minute lease sale which netted $14.4 million as a “major fiscal flop.”

“After a recent failed set of lease sales, it’s clear that Republicans’ promises of a major fiscal windfall from development on the coastal plain were really a major fiscal flop,” Markey said in a press release.

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is worthy of protection, with deep value to Arctic communities and to the nation as a whole. In tandem with efforts to safeguard the Refuge from harm, we encourage meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples regarding the use, management, and conservation of the coastal plain,” Markey continued.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order during his first week in office that placed a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in ANWR. (RELATED: ‘No New Fracking’: Biden Calls For High Speed Rail To Move US Away From Oil Drilling)

The Trump administration was pro-drilling in the 19.6 million-acre refuge. Huffman criticized Trump’s stance and claimed that Congress should work with the “Indigenous Peoples” who inhabit the coastal plains to preserve the land.

“It’s time we put these failed special interest boondoggles behind us and reverse the damage done by the past administration,” Huffman said. “Building upon President Biden’s swift action to protect the Arctic, we must work side-by-side with the Indigenous Peoples of the coastal plain to permanently protect and manage these treasured public lands.”

Markey tweeted out photos of wildlife in ANWR as a reason to support the bill.