Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Edging Toward ANWR Drilling

Drilling in ANWR?  Wasn't that issue defeated just a short time ago?  Drilling supporters have painted several dreary scenarios .


Link


WASHINGTON -- With a hard-fought Senate vote yesterday clearing the way, supporters of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge said survey teams could arrive on the harsh landscape within a year and leases for tapping its significant deposits of oil and natural gas could be sold as soon as 2007.


And according to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, if all goes according to plan, oil and natural gas could be flowing from ANWR in seven to 10 years.


How, exactly, is this all possible?  


Those predictions, which once seemed unthinkable, emerged as far more likely in the wake of a 51-49 Senate vote to allow drilling for oil and natural gas in a protected part of the Alaskan wilderness. The vote was a major victory for President Bush and his supporters in business and elsewhere who had long advocated drilling in ANWR as a way to ease the nation's dependence on foreign supplies.


Bushco protocol dictates that when a frontal assault doesn't work, try a less obvious means.  And so it was here.  Language regarding drilling was put into the senate budget bill which passed by the close vote set forth above.


Opponents have vowed to fight on, including Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.


"The fight over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is far from over," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who led the opposition. "We almost stopped this budget trickery on the floor today. ... I'll be prepared to use every tool at my disposal to stop drilling in the Arctic. We need a serious national strategy to move us toward energy independence."


One tactic for challenge is on parliamentary grounds, policy language being out of place in a budget bill.


Among other ideas, opponents said they would challenge the ANWR provision on parliamentary grounds. The challenge will argue that the ANWR provision is out of order on a budget bill because it deals with policy rather than money. ...


But budget bills are notoriously difficult to pass and there are several other difficult issues.


Another possible hurdle is the fact that final passage of the budget bill containing the ANWR provision is not assured. Congress has been unable to pass the budget bill in two of the past three years, and this year there are major fights looming on Medicaid spending, tax cuts and other politically divisive questions.


Let's hope that this pattern holds true for the future.


Senator Kerry has information for contact with your senators.


Link

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