America’s treasures are up for sale and the only thing you need to get them is the president’s phone number.
According to Donald Trump himself, he ensured that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling stayed in the Republican tax bill because a friend of his “in that business” of fossil fuels told him it was a big deal and every president since Reagan has tried to open it up. Trump’s remarks—made at the House and Senate Republican Member Conference in West Virginia on Thursday afternoon—perfectly encapsulate this administration and its values: Cronyism, revisionism, a slavish love of fossil fuels and a shocking display of ignorance all in one place.
Here, in his own words, is why Donald Trump supports drilling one of the most pristine landscapes in the country:
And ANWR, one of the great potential fields of the world. I never appreciated ANWR so much. 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 bill.”
It was amazing how that had an impact. That had a very big impact on me, Paul [Ryan, I assume]. I didn’t really care about it, but then when I heard everybody wanted it for 40 years, they’ve been trying to get it approved and I said, “make sure you don’t lose ANWR.”
This shit is, of course, insane. ANWR has been at the center of controversies around fossil fuel exploration and wildlife for decades. That the president had no idea or didn’t care about it is a shockingly asinine admission up there with “nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
The fact that a single phone call with a friend—even a friend in the oil business—about ANWR and reference to Reagan was enough to convince Trump that having ANWR drilling in the bill was vitally important is equally batshit. Then again, it’s also exactly what you’d expect for a president who adopts the opinion of the last person he talked to. And if you’re a friend in the oil business, why not push for more drilling that may just happen to pad your bottom line.
Then there’s Trump’s little bit of revisionism implying he was the driving force to keep ANWR in the tax bill. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the driving force behind it, and Republican leadership surely knew it was the easiest way to keep her as a “yes” vote. I guess they also figured it was a way to keep Trump happy, too.
And that, my friends, is how the sausage gets made.
It’s a sickening display of how easily the president is swayed into supporting something that will likely benefit his friends at the expense of the public, all for a project that’s likely to generate nowhere close to the $1 billion Republicans estimated in the tax bill.
ANWR is a 19.2 million acre spread of fantastic wilderness. It’s home to the the Porcupine Caribou herd, which is an essential part of Alaska Native’s food security.
Seventy percent of all Americans and even 52 percent of Trump’s own party oppose drilling ANWR. Scientists have warned its an ecology catastrophe waiting to happen. Nuns are against it (nuns!). If only they had had the president’s phone number.