Drilling for crude in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be just the start as President Donald Trump seeks to revive Alaska’s beleaguered oil industry.

Republicans in Congress handed the industry a long-sought victory Dec. 19, approving exploration in the vast Arctic preserve as part of their tax overhaul. The legislation, which Trump is expected to sign into law, would lift an almost 40-year old ban on prospecting for oil and natural gas in the refuge’s coastal plain, where endangered polar bears, caribou and other species roam.

It’s the capstone of a year in which legislators and the Trump administration...