With the GOP-led tax reform bill just a breath away from becoming law, a myriad of misinformation has infected the minds of the ignorant — convincing gullible readers that they somehow lose by being allowed to keep more of their own money.
This is just some of the inaccurate reporting that has surrounded the tax bill’s passing. One of the largest overlooked benefits is the effects it will have on America’s energy sector.
Drilling in Alaska, if you ask a critic, is a concept developed by evil business moguls hoping to doom the planet. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find the law allowing for drilling was initiated by Democrat Jimmy Carter. Recent changes to the tax system also allow for this rich expanse of resources to be accessed for the benefit of the American people, as Carter intended. Let’s take a closer look at how this is going to happen.
Restoring Energy Independence
The newly-passed legislation carries with it a provision allowing drilling in an area in Alaska that was actually set aside for that purpose by the Carter administration.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska) introduced the provision to allow oil exploration and production in a very small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Murkowski, chairperson of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been introducing legislation attempting to open this previously identified portion of the refuge for the 14 years she has been in the Senate. Each time, she has been blocked by Democrats and lobbyists.
While the left and some environmental groups are already calling the provision ‘simply shameful’ and ‘a back door trick’ (in some instances, wearing reindeer suits to protest), the non-wilderness area in question has actually been designated for this development for 37 years.
President Dwight Eisenhower created the ANWR back in 1960. In 1980, Carter and Congress set aside the 1002 area for study and future drilling, if, after appropriate environmental impact studies, lawmakers approved it. This was in response to the oil embargo and fears of future fuel shortages. (Odd or even? Remember those gas lines?)
Since that time, Congress has voted almost 50 times to open this area only to be blocked each time by liberal environmental movements.
The 1002 Area is a 1.5 million acre coastal plain, a non-wilderness part of the 19.6 million acre refuge. A U.S. Geological Survey in 1998 estimated that the 1002 area contains between 4 billion and 11.8 billion gallons of crude oil.
ANWR is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, and considered ‘a national treasure’ according to Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska regional director of the Wilderness Society.
“The future of the iconic landscape, which the majority of Americans want to see protected, should not be decided in a budget bill,” she said.
Indeed, Murkowski had to tread a fine line here. Attaching the measure to a tax bill lead to accusations of violations of the Byrd Act, which prohibits the Senate from considering extraneous matter as part of a reconciliation bill or resolution.
Murkowski and other supporters countered with an exception to the Byrd Act: “… that such provision will likely produce significant reductions in outlays OR increases in revenue.” They estimate (and the CBO agrees) that royalties from lease sales would bring in more than $1 billion over a decade.
Make Alaska Great Again?
We know environmentalists and their congressional supporters vow they will never permit any drilling in 1002 area (or anywhere else for that matter), but what do the actual citizens of Alaska have to say about it?
“The U.S. Senate’s decision to include two lease sales in the 1002 in its tax reform legislation is welcome news to Alaskans,” Governor Bill Walker stated on Saturday. “We are now one step closer to being able to responsibly access our [own] resources.”
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) responded to a Washington Post opinion piece by accusing their editorial board of “recycling stale, 40-year-old talking points, without adding a single voice from the vast majority of Alaskans of both parties who support the development.”
“Responsibly developing the coastal plain of ANWR…is truly a win for the United States,” he continued. “It will create jobs, grow the economy, increase energy security for Americans and, importantly, help protect the global environment and strengthen our national security.”
Sullivan cited the North Slope of Alaska as an example of their dedication to protecting their incredible wildlife, including polar bears and caribou.
John Hopson, vice chairman of Voice of the Arctic Inupiat states, “We are concerned about the future of our communities and, as of today, we stand together in support of ANWR development as part of the economic solution for the Arctic Slope region.”
This provision still has a long way to go; let’s hope that tax reform will allow the people who actually live in Alaska to finally get the chance to improve the quality of their own lives.