The Trump administration postponed eight public meetings scheduled over plans to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
The Bureau of Land Management did not say why the meetings were postponed, and the agency did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Meetings slated to take place in Anchorage, Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Kaktovik, Utqiaġvik, Venetie and Washington, D.C. will be rescheduled for a later date, BLM said in a Wednesday news release. BLM is legally required to hold public meetings.
BLM held public meetings over drilling permits in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, despite the ongoing government shutdown. A BLM spokesman told Reuters the meetings were exempted from the shutdown.
“The Bureau continues to process permit applications as they are an exempted activity during a lapse in appropriations,” the spokesman said.
BLM’s announcement comes after Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the lawmakers behind legislation to open ANWR, broke with President Donald Trump and GOP leadership and called for an end to the government shutdown.
Murkowski said Tuesday that federal agencies can be reopened that “don’t have anything to do with border security.” Murkowski’s remarks came ahead of Trump’s televised address calling for Congress to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“So let’s bifurcate these issues,” Murkowski said. “Let’s set them aside. Let’s allow for the operations, these governmental functions in these six other departments, allow for them to continue.”
Murkowski chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and was instrumental in getting a provision to open ANWR to drilling in tax cut legislation that Trump signed in late 2017. It was a major victory for Alaskans and drilling supporters fighting to open ANWR’s coastal plain to energy exploration.
Murkowski’s spokeswoman referred TheDCNF to the Senate energy committee. The committee did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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