In the wee hours of the morning, Republican Senators passed a sweeping, $1.4 trillion tax bill with a vote of 52-48. Attached to the bill was a measure to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
By attaching the measure to the larger tax bill, supporters of the measure were able to get it approved without having to pass it as a stand-alone bill which would have required 60 votes.
Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest area of untouched wilderness in the United States. The refuge supports a greater variety of plant and animal life than any other protected area in the Arctic Circle. The land is home to more than 200 species including caribou, wolves, Arctic fox, 36 species of fish, and millions of birds.
If the final tax bill is approved by the President, energy companies will soon be able to search for and drill for oil and gas from the frozen tundra.