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Senate tax cut bill also opens up oil drilling in ANWR, probably to get a certain Alaska Republican on board
This is a very fluid story so we'll see if it's in the final bill, let alone the conference report, but this is more than 20 years late in happening so if this is the Senate's idea of a sweetener to gain support for the whole thing, sign me up.
I don't think I was the target, though. I think Lisa Murkowski was. And it might be working:
Now that Republicans have added a plan to roll back a significant part of Obamacare to their tax bill, attention has once again shifted to the three-term senator. Republicans can once again only lose three senators or their efforts will fail, but GOP leaders are optimistic that Murkowski will side with her party this time.
Drilling in ANWR is an issue that's long been near to Murkowski, in part because her father, Frank Murkowski, a former Republican senator and governor, also advocated for drilling but was unsuccessful.
Proponents of opening up ANWR say it would significantly help Alaska's economy, and adding it to tax reform will help give the package more revenue to pay for tax cuts. Opponents argue that drilling there would be harmful to fish and wildlife in Alaska's Coastal Plain.
Murkowski hasn't committed one way or the other on the bill, but she hasn't been one of the high-profile skeptics threatening to vote no, espousing concerns or making demands.
Maybe that's because ANWR drilling was her primary demand. If that's the case, even if it's strictly for parochial concerns, it's a demand that's good for the country and it only makes the bill better to throw it in.
For decades, the ANWR has been an untapped resource held back only by the most foolish of politics. The primary oil reserves are found on 1.5 million acres near Prudhoe Bay. The Bush Administration tried to open this up to drilling but the effort failed because a few dozen Republican House members (including my horrible congressman at the time, Vern Ehlers) chickened out and sided with the greens. In 2015, Obama made a bad situation worse with an executive order that put another 12 million acres of the ANWR off limits for drilling.
If the Senate tax reform bill also opens up the ANWR, it will take a bill that's pro-growth on tax policy and make it even more pro-growth by giving Alaska the chance to tap a crucial natural resource and further America's already amazing progress gaining power on global energy markets.
The only shame here is that you can only do this once to buy Lisa Murkowski's vote. But this is a good occasion in which to play the ANWR card. There's oil amidst the caribou! Let's go get it.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!