Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, who is a leader in the fight against revived GOP efforts to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), said modest oil prices could deter development, but cannot replace a federal drilling ban. "I just worry that that's the security of last resort," she said when asked whether oil markets could thwart development even if restrictions are lifted. "I don't think they are going there," she added.

Why it matters: Cantwell's comments come amid questions about how much oil companies will be willing to spend money on Arctic exploration if prices remain modest and amid opportunities for lower cost production in the lower-48 states.

Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spoke ahead of a hearing this morning in her committee on ANWR drilling. She criticized the GOP proposal to raise revenues from leasing in the region, saying Republicans need money in order to "give a tax break to millionaires."

Republicans are using the budget process to enable legislation to open ANWR to drilling that's not subject to Senate filibusters. Cantwell warned against policies she said could "destroy" the refuge.

Yes, but: Oil industry officials have long maintained they can develop the coastal plain of the refuge with a minimal environmental footprint.

What's next: Cantwell refused to concede that Republicans definitely have enough votes, despite the failure of her floor amendment last month to strip provisions from the budget resolution that pave the way for drilling legislation.

  • "We have talked to some [Republicans] who voted that way who said, 'oh, I didn't really consider your amendment the final vote on that,' so we will have to see," she said of the 52-48 defeat of the amendment last month.

Go deeper

Supreme Court rejects GOP push to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an attempt by conservatives to shorten North Carolina's deadline for mail-in ballots from nine to three days.

The big picture: This is the latest of a series of decisions over mail-in ballot deadlines in various states.

Hurricane Zeta makes landfall on Louisiana coast as Category 2 storm

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana as a Category 2 storm on Wednesday, bringing with it "life-threatening storm surge and strong winds," per the National Hurricane Center.

What's happening: The hurricane was producing maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 mph and stronger gusts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests, Trump's testing czar saysMask mandates help control rise in hospitalizations Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Surge is sinking consumer confidence Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" coronavirus wave France imposes lockdown as Macron warns of overwhelming second COVID wave Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed as COVID-19 surges MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.