Trump threatens Alaska drilling & mining as payback for Murkowski’s Trumpcare vote

  • Published on July 27th, 2017

Trump has big plans to help big oil in Alaska – including Arctic offshore drilling, the Salmon-destroying Pebble Mine, and of course, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for more energy exploration (a wet dream of the GOP for almost 50 years). But now all that could be at risk, since he’s annoyed at Alaska’s GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski for voting against Trumpcare.

By Jeremy BloomCaribou ANWR photo by NOAA

Murkowski was one of seven Republican Senators who voted against the President (and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell). She also was one of only two GOP Senators (along with Maine’s Susan Collins) who voted against even bringing the messy mishmash of a healthcare bill to the Senate floor.

In a move worthy of Tony Soprano:

[Wednesday] afternoon, each of Alaska’s two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said the call from Zinke heralded a “troubling message.”

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan said..

Sullivan said the Interior secretary was clear that his message was in response to the no vote Murkowski cast Tuesday on the motion to proceed with debate on the House-passed health care legislation.

Sullivan was probably blindsided, since he had been a good soldier and voted with the President. But it doesn’t take much to set  Trump off (as AG Jefferson Sessions is learning). A Trump-affiliated group actually went so far as to run ads against Sen Dean Heller (R-NV), one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents, when he didn’t toe the Trump line.

But, as Joan McCarter notes at DailyKos,

Murkowski, as head of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the Senate, is arguably a more powerful player for her state on energy issues than Trump could be. She also won reelection on a write-in vote… Murkowski has no reason to fear for her job.

And Trump hasn’t ever been precisely sane on the subject of Alaska:

And if Zinke does withhold support for drilling and mining in Alaska? Great!

Background: Trump approves first new Arctic oil drilling – by Russian-connected company, of course

“I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans” Sullivan told the Alaska Dispatch News. “…We’re facing some difficult times and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear.”

Environmentalists say, “Please continue..”

UPDATE: Or maybe it was a move worthy of Fredo Corleone. Trump always seems surprised when his bullying backfires and blows up in his face, because the folks he bullies aren’t powerless schoolkids but powerful US Senators:

(Arctic Caribou image by NOAA.)





About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.