The Senate voted Thursday to repeal the federal ban that restricts oil & gas drilling by drilling rigs in the Arctic Ocean, with Republicans largely on board.
The vote was 62-32 with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.
Va., the lone Republican vote against it.
It was the second time the Senate has voted to repeal a federal drilling ban.
The Senate vote came in the wake of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that found the drilling industry in the Beaufort Sea has been overfishing, damaging coastal areas and disrupting sea ice.
“We have been clear that offshore oil &s; gas operations are not a smart, responsible, or environmentally sound business plan,” Manchin said in a statement after the vote.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was created in 1976, and the U.S. is one of only three nations that still has oil &ing; gas exploration rights there.
Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can’t conduct drilling in ANWR until the oil &ams;gas industry makes significant investments in the region.
In 2016, the BLM announced plans to drill in the ANWR.
The ANWR is located in the northeastern corner of the Arctic.
The oil &afloor drilling in the area has been a major part of the U,S.
energy strategy in the past.
In 2012, the federal government issued an order to drill within 25 miles (40 km) of the site.
In 2017, the Interior Department finalized plans to resume drilling in this region, with a total area of about 530,000 acres (242,000 hectares).
The Trump administration also plans to lease a portion of the land in the Northern Territories to drill for oil &ah;gas.
In 2015, the Trump administration issued an oil &council order to allow oil &aft;gas drilling in an area in the north that was not part of ANWR as a way to ease concerns about oil &ecamp;gas development in the northern portion of ANEW.
The Antiquities law gives the BLM and the Bureau the authority to approve drilling in national monuments, but that’s a discretionary process, and not binding on the agency.
The Interior Department’s plan to drill would not be the first to happen in ANEW since the government created it in the 1970s, according to James Tackett, a former BLM spokesman.
The BLM has previously drilled in the southern part of Alaska and in the Canadian Arctic.
“It’s just a matter of time before we see drilling in one of these places,” Tacket said.
A drilling ban was passed in 1972, but the Obama administration has pushed to reverse the ban since then, with some success.
In 2013, the Bush administration repealed the ban and began drilling in Alaska.
But in 2016, President Donald Trump reinstated the ban, with Vice President Mike Pence leading a bipartisan group of senators in urging the Trump White House to rescind it.
“The American people overwhelmingly rejected the ban on drilling in public lands and our country’s Arctic,” Manchin said in the statement.
“Now is the time to stop the Obama Administration’s failed policies and protect the world’s most precious natural resource.”
In 2017 alone, more than 30 million barrels of oil &acamp;drew from the Beaujolais, according the Beaufishes Conservation Society.
The U.K. government has also begun leasing land in ANW, but has not started drilling.