Let's Fix This Country
tax notes

Drill, Baby, Drill the Wildlife Refuge

Unlike everywhere else in the U.S., every Alaskan gets a royalty for oil produced (the term for bringing it to the surface) from the state's wells. Citizens needn't do a thing, yet each has in the past received as much as a few thousand dollars annually.

Production has declined in recent years, so in early November, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a heroine for voting against Obamacare repeal and replacement, showed her other colors by introducing legislation that, for the first time, would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling. Alaska has the highest unemployment in the nation, and Murkowski wants to create jobs — and then there are all those votes from the folks who will appreciate the royalties.

Murkowski successfully got her bill folded into the tax bill and the Refuge will be open for business.

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 provides a path for a measure to evade filibuster and need only a simple majority for passage. But to qualify for so-called "reconciliation", it must deal only with budgetary and fiscal matters. Republicans opted to go the reconciliation route to avoid a Democratic filibuster that would require an impossible 60 votes to surmount.

ANWR was included in the tax bill with the legions opposed shut out. It was done on the phony premise that allowing energy companies to defile this pristine wilderness — environmentalists have fought for years that this expanse free of humanity's contamination be left alone — is somehow a fiscal matter is deeply cynical. What's the claim? Republicans can raise money — a paltry amount compared to the tax bill's cost — by selling leases. It was slipped in with no debate. Trump is tweeting about "Massive Alaska Drilling". How many Americans even know this has happened?

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