Speaking of SUV fuel economy…
“Just a 2.7-mpg gain in the fuel economy of this country’s light-vehicle
fleet could displace Persian Gulf imports entirely” –Amory B. Lovins
That’s the “light-vehicle” fleet…only!
You don’t suppose Pete Domenici is going to propose any sort of fuel economy
improvements as he hammers out “a robust and diverse energy bill” do you?
Politics – Reuters
Six Republican Senators Turn Against Bush on ANWR
47 minutes ago
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Bush administration’s plan to open the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to drilling suffered a major blow on Friday as six
Republican senators said they opposed inserting language into a must-pass
budget bill that would give oil companies access to the refuge.
ANWR, which is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife, sprawls
across 19 million acres of Alaska’s northeast corner.
The Republican-led House of Representatives passed energy legislation last
year that would have opened ANWR to drilling, but a Democratic-led Senate
did not pass similar legislation.
The White House contends that the refuge’s potential 16 billion barrels of
crude must be tapped to help reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports from
unfriendly countries like Iraq.
But many Democrats and environmentalists oppose drilling, saying the
administration should cut oil imports by boosting the mileage standards of
gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles.
Six of the Senate’s 51 Republicans, including former presidential candidate
John McCain of Arizona, on Friday announced they would not go along with a
plan to tack ANWR drilling language onto a massive spending bill this spring
that would enact the new 2004 budget for the federal government.
“Because the opening of the Arctic refuge to drilling raises a host of
policy concerns, including serious environmental ramifications, we do not
believe this issue should be injected in the budget process,” the lawmakers
said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Budget
Committee Chairman Don Nickles.
The letter is the latest twist in a two-year legislative battle over
drilling in the Alaskan refuge.
The Democratic-led Senate last year soundly defeated efforts to open the
refuge, when drilling supporters fell short of the 60 votes needed to end
debate on the controversial proposal and allow a final vote on the measure.
DRILLING BACKERS DON’T WANT A FILIBUSTER
To get around a filibuster this time around, supporters of opening the
refuge want to attach drilling language to must-pass legislation to fund the
2004 budget for the federal government. They argue that such language is
appropriate for budget legislation because of the fees the government would
collect from leasing tracts in the refuge to oil companies.
Under Senate rules, budget legislation cannot be filibustered and only 50
votes would be needed to approve the bill and an attached ANWR drilling
In addition to McCain, the letter was signed by Senators Olympia Snowe and
Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Peter Fitzgerald of
Illinois, and Mike DeWine of Ohio. The six were part of a group of eight
Republicans who crossed the aisle last year to vote against ANWR drilling.
In his State of the Union speech to Congress earlier this week, President
Bush (news – web sites) urged lawmakers to pass legislation enacting his
national energy plan, which includes drilling in the refuge.
Two Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts
and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, oppose ANWR drilling and have promised
to filibuster any energy bill that would open the refuge.
A new poll released on Friday by The Wilderness Society showed that by a
two-to-one margin, voters reject opening the Arctic refuge to oil drilling,
even in the case of impending war with Iraq and a possible cut-off of some
of America’s oil supplies from the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the Senate Energy Committee announced on Friday a series of
hearings that will focus on the energy challenges facing the United States
and will also guide the development of comprehensive energy legislation.
“My top priorities will be hammering out a robust and diverse energy bill
for floor consideration this summer,” said panel chairman Pete Domenici.
“Right now, America is faced with energy challenges and opportunities. We
are on the brink of war in the Middle East and dangerously dependent on
Middle East oil,” he added.
The panel will hold three hearings in February on oil and natural supplies,
and energy production on federal lands — which could include drilling in
the Arctic refuge.