Congressional Democrats and environmentalists are preparing for a legislative and legal fight against oil and natural gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after Congress this week approved drilling there for the first time in decades.

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“The new phase of this fight has begun,” Adam Kolton, a senior director with the Alaska Wilderness League, said Wednesday.

“It’s a disgrace, it’s an abomination and we are going to fight it,” Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat, said during a call with reporters…

…A potential ANWR producer would risk “significant backlash,” amplifying the operational risk of drilling there.

“Lawsuits could result in response to any operational errors, which could result in closure of facilities and shutting-in of production until legal issues are resolved,” they wrote.

But Sam Ori, executive director of the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, said critics of ANWR drilling may be overstating the economic risks of drilling there and understating the lack of interest in oil and gas development there.

“ANWR will have its own set of challenges, but it is a stable operating environment with a transparent fiscal regime. And it’s onshore,” Ori said. “My bet is that if there is a commercial discovery, companies will eagerly develop it…”

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Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Fossil Fuels
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Environment
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Environment
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