6 Republicans oppose drilling in ANWR

January 31, 2003 at 2:26 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Speaking of SUV fuel economy…

And remember:

“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.


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.

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