MiamiHerald / Donald Trump’s feverish war on the American wilderness compels us to celebrate an unexpected voice of conscience, rare as it might be.
Last week, Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami and 11 other House Republicans co-signed a letter asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove from the tax-reform bill a provision that will allow oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“For decades, Congress has voted to prohibit oil and gas development in the Refuge, with the overwhelming support of the American people,” the letter said.
“Support for this protection remains strong today. After years of debate, the Arctic refuge stands as a symbol of our nation’s strong and enduring natural legacy.”
To no one’s surprise, McConnell disregarded the plea of Curbelo and the others.
The Senate version of the tax-reform bill includes a green light for Arctic drilling, which was inserted purely to win the support of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a longtime advocate of oil and gas exploration on the fabled North Slope.
Drilling has nothing to do with the tax-reform debate, but McConnell needed Murkowski’s vote for the bill to pass.
Why would Curbelo, a congressman from South Florida, buck the GOP leadership over an environmental sellout in faraway Alaska?
There’s always a possibility that, despite being a Republican in the year 2017, Curbelo truly believes the Arctic refuge is worth preserving.
At the very least, he understands that coastal Florida could be the next battleground.