Senate Vote Could Lead To Drilling In Alaska's Wildlife Refuge Senate Democrats tried and failed Thursday to block oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The fight over drilling in ANWR has passed from one generation of senators to another.
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Senate Vote Could Lead To Drilling In Alaska's Wildlife Refuge

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Senate Vote Could Lead To Drilling In Alaska's Wildlife Refuge

Senate Vote Could Lead To Drilling In Alaska's Wildlife Refuge

Senate Vote Could Lead To Drilling In Alaska's Wildlife Refuge

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/559336234/559336235" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Senate Democrats tried and failed Thursday to block oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The fight over drilling in ANWR has passed from one generation of senators to another.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Inside the Senate's budget blueprint that passed this week is a clause that allows for oil drilling. That would be in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a vast wilderness the size of South Carolina. For 40 years, Congress has debated whether to allow oil drilling there. And now it's moved a step closer. Alaska Public Media's Liz Ruskin reports.

LIZ RUSKIN, BYLINE: The next stop for this debate is the Senate energy committee. It's chaired by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a big champion of drilling in the refuge. She says the industrial footprint on Arctic tundra can be small thanks to long reach drilling and ice roads that melt in summer. Her father, former Senator Frank Murkowski, tried the same arguments in the 1990s. Lisa Murkowski says the drills reach much further now.

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LISA MURKOWSKI: The technology that we're using today is not the technology that my father had visited. The world has changed so dramatically up in the North Slope area. And this will be our chance to share that with people.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Big round of applause for all Senate champions here today.

RUSKIN: Environmental groups held a rally outside the Capitol Tuesday, trying to rev up enthusiasm for yet another round in the long fight. Democrats have also passed the torch to a second generation.

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TOM UDALL: This is our Serengeti. This is a special place. It is a treasure. And we have got to save it.

RUSKIN: That's Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. He's the nephew of the late congressman Mo Udall, who in 1980 held strong against drilling in the refuge.

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UDALL: And I know his spirit is here with us today. Uncle Mo legislated on this and said, this place is so special, Congress has to act if you're going to have drilling.

RUSKIN: But Congress has been locked in a stalemate for decades, lacking votes to either open the refuge to drilling or permanently protect the coast as wilderness. And since exploration is banned, no one even knows how much oil it holds. For NPR News, I'm Liz Ruskin at the Capitol.

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