Trump says opening ANWR is ‘a big, big deal’

Source: Zack Colman, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, December 22, 2017

President Trump celebrated a major energy win today when Republicans approved opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

“But I will tell you, ANWR is a big, big deal. It’s not ever mentioned by the press, and that was fine until now. Now you can mention it,” Trump said. “So we’re going to have tremendous energy coming out of that part of the world. And people have wanted to do it for 40 years.”

ANWR has been controversial for just as many years.

Congressional Republicans paved the way to drill in ANWR through the GOP tax bill, which sought additional revenue to make its math work. Members of the tax-writing committees said ANWR would yield $1 billion in revenue from lease sales. Some experts have questioned that projection given depressed oil prices, high operating costs in an area with little infrastructure and sensitive ecosystem concerns in the wildlife-rich region.

Democrats and environmental groups had sought to block the ANWR provision, saying it would jeopardize complex habitats and species that have gone virtually undisturbed in the Arctic zone. Alaska’s GOP congressional delegation, however, pushed for its inclusion. The reserves are seen as vital for funding the state budget and for keeping oil flowing through the Trans-Alaska pipeline — which must maintain a minimum threshold to keep operating — as supply from the Last Frontier’s North Slope has declined.

“So a friend of mine who was in the oil business said, ‘I can’t believe it, ANWR, they’ve been trying to get it for 40 years.’ Forty years, and I didn’t know that,” Trump said. “We have ANWR. We’re going to start drilling in ANWR — one of the largest oil reserves in the world — that for 40 years this country was unable to touch. That by itself would be a massive bill.”