Why the Trump administration wants to open ANWR to drilling so quickly

At the end of last year, President Trump and Congress officially gave the green light to oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). For Alaskan lawmakers, the inclusion of a drilling provision in the GOP tax bill was a victorious end to a nearly 40-year struggle to develop parts of the resource-rich refuge.

But lifting the decades-old ban on fossil-fuel development in the refuge, it turns out, is just the start of a scramble to actually erect rigs into the air and get drills into the ground.

With control of the executive and legislative branches, Republicans are eager to get through the environmental review process before a Democrat has a chance to regain the White House in 2020.

Officials are racing to auction off drilling rights — because once they do that, it makes the job of again closing ANWR to drilling that much harder in the future.

Today, the Interior Department will kickstart the lengthy environmental review process, allowing members of the public to weigh in on developing the pristine coastal plain. During the 60-day comment period, citizens can write to the agency’s Bureau of Land Management to identify potential environmental issues. The BLM will also hold public hearings in Anchorage, Fairbanks and three Arctic communities in the state.

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