By Anthony Jackson
WASHINGTON – Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday slammed the Republicans’ budget after meeting with other Democrat senators and environment advocates to stop funding for Arctic natural gas and oil drilling.
“Tucked inside the Republican budget is a poison pill,” Markey said in a news conference in front of the Capitol. “One more massive corporate handout – a giveaway of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to big oil,” he said.
Markey said this budget “sets the stage for Republicans to ram drilling … through the Senate using only a 50-vote threshold” and called it a “Big Oil polar pay-out.” The fiscal 2018 budget proposal would provide oil and gas leases in the ANWR.
In 2015, oil giant Shell abandoned an exploration and drilling operation in the Alaskan Arctic due to amassed criticism and a year’s long exploration that produced no oil, the Guardian reported. The expedition took $7 billion of shareholders’ money; due to low oil prices, investors will have to count on a higher demand for a decent return, the Guardian wrote.
In April, the Trump administration lifted restrictions imposed by former President Barrack Obama that prohibited drilling in the ANWR.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) are in favor of drilling in the Arctic for economic reasons.
Murkowski said in an April statement: “These areas contain prolific resources that can be safely developed to create jobs, reduce our deficits, keep energy affordable and strengthen national security.”
Conservationists are concerned about oil spills and the affect of drilling on wildlife. Marilyn Heiman, former director of the U.S. Arctic Program, said in a 2011 Pew Report: “There’s no proven response method for cleaning [up] an oil spill in the midst of broken ice.”
Carol Brown was the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration; in an exclusive interview with TMN she said the country needs more renewable energies and fewer fossil fuels.
“We need clean energy because that is the best way to give consumers savings and the best way to give the American people cleaner air,” she said.