House Democrat introduces bill to block oil drilling near polar bear dens

Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Latest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say | House-passed spending bill would block Pebble Mine construction | Interior sends 100K pages of documents to House House-passed spending bill would block Pebble Mine construction OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA rule extends life of toxic coal ash ponds | Flint class action suit against Mich. officials can proceed, court rules | Senate Democrats introduce environmental justice bill MORE (D-Calif.) has proposed a new bill aiming to prevent oil and gas drilling near polar bear dens, targeting the Trump administration’s plans to open up a wildlife refuge in Alaska for drilling.

The bill, introduced Thursday, would prohibit oil and gas exploration within one mile of a polar bear maternal denning habitat.

“Proposed oil exploration would further threaten this species, crushing and destroying their dens and cause some mother polar bears to abandon their maternity dens leaving any surviving cubs to perish,” Huffman said in a statement on the proposal.

The Interior Department has found that drilling activity in an Alaska area called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR,) wouldn’t harm polar bears.

However, Huffman and other Democrats recently wrote a letter arguing that the agency’s assessment was not sufficiently thorough.

A provision in a 2017 tax bill opened the ANWR to drilling following years of debate over the matter and the Trump administration has since taken steps to advance drilling there. 

On Wednesday, while delivering a speech on energy, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will ban TikTok from operating in the US Trump’s 2019 financial disclosure reveals revenue at Mar-a-Lago, other major clubs Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets MORE touted his administration’s moves to open up the refuge to drilling as one of many deregulatory actions taken by his administration. 

“We ended the war on American energy and we stopped the far-left assault on American energy workers,” he said.

The new legislation would likely face hurdles in the Republican-held Senate. However, Democrats have also recently targeted ANWR drilling by including provisions to block it in a spending bill. 

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