Sen. Maria Cantwell, a longtime opponent of oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has helped defeat the latest Republican plan to open up the refuge for new energy exploration.
The Washington Democrat and member of the Senate Finance Committee raised objections Tuesday when Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch offered a plan that would have allowed drilling rigs into the refuge and protected waters off the coast of Florida and southern California
“We all know that gas prices going up are a very big challenge to us and we need to find alternatives to foreign oil,” Cantwell said. “But just drilling more as our strategy to pay for this bill is just not going to get us there….It’s as if we think now that we can go ahead and open up all of the drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.”
Hatch ended up withdrawing his proposal.
Since entering the Senate in 2001, Cantwell has cosponsored legislation to protect the arctic refuge as a wilderness area. In 2005, she led a filibuster to reverse a plan by Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska to attach a drilling proposal to a bill that paid for troops fighting in Iraq.