As if we needed another example of Trump putting his business and personal relationships over those of the American people and the environment, the president has now admitted that he didn’t think about drilling on in the Arctic national Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) until an oil industry executive prompted him to.
According to Trump, who recalled the call during a speech at the Republican Member Conference this week:
A friend of mine called up in that world, in that business and said ‘is it true you’re thinking about ANWR?’ I said, ‘yeah, I think we’re going to get it but you know,.”
He said, “are you kidding? You know that’s the biggest thing by itself. Ronald Reagan and every president has wanted to get ANWR approved.”
And after that, I said, “oh, make sure that’s in the [$1.5 trillion tax] bill.”
Trump added, “I really didn’t care about it,” he said. “Then when I heard that everybody wanted it, for 40 years, everybody tried to get it approved, ‘Make sure you don’t lose ANWR.'”
As Trump’s friend mentioned, the oil and gas industry have been pressing for ANWR to be open for drilling for many, many years. Congress only lifted the 40-year ban as part of the Republican tax reform bill approved in December. The tax plan included a “backdoor drilling provision” that was added to secure the vote of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has long supported arctic drilling.
According to both scientists and conservationists, opening the ANWR for oil and gas drilling would cause irreperable harm to “the most beautiful, pristine wildlife refuge that we have in the United States.”
The refuge is currently the largest protected wilderness in the U.S., consisting of more than 19 million acres and is home to 37 species of land mammals, eight marine mammals, 42 fish species, and more than 200 bird species.
A large majority of Americans oppose drilling in the ANWR. According to a recent Yale survey, 70% of Americans polled oppose drilling, and those strongly oppose outnumber those who strongly support the policy by more than 4 to 1.