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Pressure Campaign: House Dems Tell Banks Not To Finance Arctic Drilling

alaska pipeline

alaska pipeline

A swath of House Democrats wants bank CEOs to follow the lead of Goldman Sachs in pledging to stop funding new drilling and oil explorations in the Arctic.

Thirty-three House Democrats on Thursday sent a letter to five bank leaders asking that their companies back off spending on oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“You have an opportunity to be more expansive: to reject not just this specific oil drilling program but to prevent the financing of gas exploration, other drilling infrastructure, and to wind down the industry’s participation in the ongoing operations of existing oil and gas projects in the region,” said the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat.

“Roads, pipelines, gravel mines, airstrips, and other facilities that would be developed to support exploration and development on the coastal plain would fragment habitat, displace wildlife, and undermine the wilderness character of the Refuge,” said the letter.

“Millions of gallons of freshwater needed to support drilling activities could be drained from fragile Arctic rivers. And oil spills, which already occur on the North Slope, would harm fish and wildlife.”

But that approach didn’t sit well with Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican.

“Frankly, it’s sad that House Democrats continue to not only get involved in the business of the Alaska Natives who actually live near ANWR’s coastal plain, but they’re now trying to further involve themselves in the economy too,” Young told the Washington Examiner in an email statement.

“Alaskans can be trusted to responsibly develop energy on our lands, and using scare tactics against private companies won’t change that fact.”

Senate Democrats made a similar demand of the financial institutions earlier this month, prompting criticism by Sen. Dan. Sullivan, another Alaska Republican.

“I’m going to be a little partisan here because it’s always coming from the Democrats [who] seem to always want to tell me and my state how to manage Alaska’s environment,” Sullivan said during a Feb. 6 committee hearing.

“And then, you take the train [up the East Coast corridor], and you’re like, ‘Holy crap! You’re telling me how to manage my environment? Look at this environmental wasteland.’”

ANWR has been in the middle of a political tug of war between Republicans and Democrats for 40 years, pitting energy development advocates against environmentalists.

The 19.6-million-acre Arctic refuge was the focus of a measure within the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that authorized energy development on 2,000 federal acres of ANWR.

House Democrats now aim to reverse plans to drill oil in the Arctic and passed a bill largely along party lines last September banning oil exploration in ANWR. The bill, however, was not picked up by the Republican-led Senate.

Read more at Washington Examiner