The Senate GOP took a first step Friday toward opening up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by issuing its fiscal 2018 budget resolution.
The budget resolution contains instructions for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Arctic refuge, to recommend policies to save $1 billion over the next decade. Many lawmakers expect the savings to come from opening up a portion of the refuge to oil and natural gas drilling.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the committee, said the Senate Budget Committee's resolution opens the door to increased jobs and energy security.
"This provides an excellent opportunity for our committee to raise $1 billion in federal revenues while creating jobs and strengthening our nation's long-term energy security," Murkowski said. "I am confident that our committee is prepared to meet the instruction in this resolution."
The goal of opening the refuge to drilling for decades has been a longstanding Republican goal that Murkowski and the Trump administration have embraced. Trump said he wanted to open the refuge to drilling in his fiscal 2018 budget request.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday that the success of Trump's energy dominance agenda hinges on drilling in Alaska's Arctic.
"The road to energy dominance goes through the great state of Alaska," Zinke said in giving a speech on energy policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
"Under President Trump's leadership we've initiated a five-year plan to open up more areas for oil and gas exploration and development," Zinke said.
He explained that the part of Arctic refuge that the administration wants to open to drilling, section 1002 of the North Slope, was specifically set aside by Congress for energy development when it created the refuge in the 1960s.
"I signed a secretary order to review our policies on development in the Nation Petroleum Reserve in Alaska as well as the 1002 section of the North Slope that was specifically set aside by Congress to evaluate," Zinke said.