Protecting Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- The Battle Continues
US Election Day has come and gone and although President Bush will stay
in the White House, there will be a different Congress to reckon with
in January. The Republican Party has gained seats in both the House and
Senate making the caribou calving grounds more threatened than ever before.
Pro-development lawmakers will re-double their legislative efforts to
open the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development. Still without an energy
bill,Congress is likely to make this piece of legislation a top priority.
Although earlier versions of the House bill contained a provision for drilling
in the Refuge, pro-drilling senators are well aware of the fact that a majority
of both Democratic and Republican senators will use a filibuster to stall
an energy bill that allows drilling in the Refuge.
The pro-development lobby know that they don’t
have the 60 votes
necessary to break a filibuster against drilling in the Refuge. So they may
instead attach a provision for drilling in the Refuge to a budget
reconciliation bill, which cannot be filibustered and needs only 51 votes to
pass. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) have already been
quoted in the press as pursuing this tactic.
The Alaska Wilderness League recently ordered nearly 2500 copies of
the 'Being Caribou' film that will be distributed to their grassroots
network of Arctic Refuge activists. Also all 200 Senators will received hand
delivered copies of the film in early January.
March 3, 2004
Lawmakers to keep Arctic drilling out of FY '05 budget
Mary O'Driscoll, Environment & Energy Daily senior reporter
Neither the Senate nor House versions of the FY '05
budget resolution will include a controversial plan to raise revenues
from oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"Until we know it's actually doable and passable,
at least for now, we don't have it in the savings," House Budget
Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) told reporters yesterday.
On the Senate side, Appropriations Committee Chairman
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), long an advocate for drilling in the Arctic,
said the issue is not yet dead, but he added it would not come up in
"That's one of my favorite dreams," he said
of including Arctic drilling in the budget resolution. "I dream
it will happen, but I don't expect it to."
The decision to keep ANWR oil exploration
out of the FY '05 budget comes days after Republicans and Democrats
from both the House and the Senate notified budget writers that they
would oppose efforts to raise FY '05 revenues through drilling (E&E
Daily, March 2, 2004).
Environmentalists said they were
pleased with the news. "The
budget is going to be so contentious anyway," said Anna Aurilio
of Public Citizen.
The congressional budget resolution sets spending caps
for the upcoming FY '05 appropriations bills. Budget-writing lawmakers
will be working off President Bush's budget request of $818 billion in
discretionary spending for FY '05, a plan that squeezes most major environmental
and energy programs as part of an overall goal to keep nondefense domestic
appropriations during the upcoming budget process to 1 percent growth.
Bush's discretionary spending request is up $32 billion from the nearly
$786 billion approved in FY '04.
The annual budget resolution, which Congress hopes to
complete by the end of this month, limits the amount of money that can
be spent by the government and sets the sources of funding for federal
programs. The Bush administration's FY '05 federal budget calls for $2.4
billion to be raised in FY '06 from oil leasing in ANWR; the revenue
would be evenly split between Alaska and the federal government.
Current law prohibits oil drilling
in ANWR. To get around that, an ANWR drilling policy could be "reconciled" in
separate legislation if there are instructions to do so in the budget
resolution. That would make ANWR drilling language not subject to a
filibuster, the Senate procedure that has doomed previous efforts to
open up ANWR to oil and gas exploration.
Earlier efforts to use the reconciliation process have
failed. For instance, the Senate last year voted 52-48 to strike from
its FY '04 budget resolution provisions that would have facilitated passage
of ANWR development. That vote came after six GOP senators recorded their
opposition to the proposal. It is unclear what the effects will be on
a potential Senate vote with five instead of six GOP senators stating
their opposition to a potential ANWR provision.
Similar efforts to include ANWR revenue in the budget
also have failed in each of the past three years in the House Budget
February 26, 2004
House Democrats Demand No Arctic Refuge Drilling Be
Included in President's Budget
Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy
Pelosi, Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts and 121 House Democrats
sent a letter today to the leaders of the House Budget Committee urging
them to refrain from using the budget process to open the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Even though the plan was dropped
from the energy bill last year due to strong opposition, the Bush Administration
has again included a proposal to drill in the Arctic Refuge in its fiscal
year 2005 budget.
"It is preposterous for the President to think
he can climb out of his budgetary hole by drilling in the Arctic Refuge," Pelosi
said. "The President wants an enormous policy change with devastating
environmental ramifications for a small amount of potential revenue.
It is shameful, and House Democrats will fight it."
Congressman Markey said: "The
President's budget represents wishful thinking rather than economic
reality. Oil leasing is not allowed in the Arctic Refuge, and it is
irresponsible of the President to count on $1.2 billion in revenues
from the sale of leases in that pristine wilderness. The road to America's
energy independence does not go through the Arctic National Wildlife
The House Democrats wrote in the
letter to the Budget Committee leaders: "We strongly urge you
to reject any requests to assume revenue from drilling activity in
the Arctic Refuge or reconciliation instructions that could facilitate
drilling there. Drilling is prohibited under current law and widely
opposed throughout America. If the law ever changes, there will be
adequate time to incorporate new assumptions regarding federal revenue
from this source in subsequent budgets."
To protect the Arctic Refuge, one of the most magnificent
and rare unspoiled ecosystems in the world, Congress in 1980 prohibited
oil and gas exploration or production on the coastal plain of the refuge.
A Democratic amendment to the House energy bill blocking drilling in
the Arctic Refuge narrowly failed last year, but the subsequent House-Senate
conference report preserved the current protections for the Refuge. A
majority of Americans have consistently opposed opening this area for
February 2, 2004
GROUNDHOG DAY – LIKE A BAD DREAM, PRESIDENT INCLUDES
ARCTIC REFUGE IN BUDGET AGAIN
The Bush administration said it will push Congress this
year to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling,
and hopes to begin leasing tracts in the area to energy companies in
2006. Even though the Senate has voted many times against giving oil
companies access to the refuge, the White House included the drilling
plan in its proposed 2005 government budget sent to Congress.
The administration said in its budget that opening the
refuge would raise an initial $2.4 billion in leasing fees and half that
amount would go toward increased funding for the Energy Department's
renewable energy technology research programs over seven years.
“This act only shows how deeply out of touch the
President is with current political and economic realities,” said
Cindy Shogan, Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League.
When the President laid out similar plans last year,
he was decisively defeated. The American people don't want drilling and
Congress has rejected this scheme every year since 2001. They know drilling
in the Arctic Refuge would ruin one of our last wild places for what
the USGS estimates is less oil than the U.S. uses in six months, and
it wouldn't get here for ten years or more. That the President would
attempt to include this provision in his budget yet again shows the extreme
commitment of this administration to the desires of corporate special
interests, rather than the will of the American people.
All of America's arctic is now under attack by the Bush
administration. Just two weeks ago the Department of the Interior signed
away nearly nine million acres of the western arctic and they want to
reopen the few protected areas on the North Slope.
What an administration puts in its budget is a clear
_expression of its values. Most Americans are not willing to trade off
one of America's last wild places, and the wildlife and native people
who depend on it, for a few months' worth of oil that wouldn't be available
for years. It is impossible to account for the losses suffered by the
environment, wildlife and Alaska Natives if drilling is allowed in the
“By resounding margins the American people have
consistently said No when asked if they support opening the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Congressional conferees, all of
them members of the president's party, said No to Arctic drilling in
drafting last year's energy bill. Twice in less than two years, the Senate
has said No to the drilling proposal, both times by majority bipartisan
votes. What part of No does this administration not understand?” said
Adam Kolton, Legislative Director for the National Wildlife Federation.
The bottom line is that this issue has nothing to do with the budget or
generating revenues for America – it's all about the oil industry's
power and influence inside the White House.
Good, the Bad, and the REALLY Ugly
known as the Energy Policy Act of 2003)
Republicans on Friday finished a draft of a broad energy bill, overcoming
several weeks of GOP infighting between House and Senate over tax provisions
for ethanol. Overcoming the disagreements allows the full conference
committee to see the legislation, many of them for the first time,
prior to voting on whether or not to accept the 1700 page document
(called the conference report) and send it back to the respective chambers
for final passage. The conference report was to be presented to Democrats
for review, but is unlikely to be changed significantly given the Republican
majority in the House and Senate conference. The full House is scheduled
to vote on the final energy conference report as soon as Tuesday with
the Senate to follow later in the week. So what is in this massive
document, the fruits of two and half years of often rancorous debate
and the first attempt in over a decade to revamp the nation’s
energy priorities and infrastructure?
GOOD news is that conferees agreed to drop the provision calling for
drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is great news!
This may be the best part of the energy bill, that Arctic drilling
isn't in it. The BAD news is that there are other provisions in the
energy bill that are bad for Alaska. The UGLY news is that the energy
bill gets really bad when you look at the public lands provisions for
the whole country, and not just Alaska. To read the details about the
harmful provisions in the energy bill, go to http://www.alaskawild.org/new.html.
EIA REPORT REAFFIRMS ARCTIC REFUGE OIL WOULD MAKE LITTLE DENT IN IMPORTS
report on the impact of proposed energy legislation reiterates the
minuscule real-world market impact of proposals to drill in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge.
findings of the report, "Analyses of Selected Provisions of Proposed Energy
Legislation: 2003," mirror the findings the agency reported in
2002 to then-Senator Frank Murkowski - not surprising, since the bill's
provisions are nearly identical to the language of a bill then under
consideration in the Senate. The key findings of the report, released
in late September by the federal Energy Information Administration,
• No oil would flow from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for nearly
a decade if drilling were authorized this year, and peak production would not
be reached for another eight years after that, with yields diminishing after
• Oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would have an insignificant
impact in world oil supplies; the likely yield would add just 0.7 percent to
world oil supplies. One would hardly expect this increase in output - even if
not offset by corresponding decreases in production from OPEC - to make any appreciable
dent in oil prices.
• Arctic Refuge oil would have a minuscule impact on US energy imports,
only reducing US imports in 2020 from a projected 62 percent of US consumption
to 60 percent. And that would be the peak impact, since yields would taper
off after reaching a peak in 2020.
to an October 2 analysis in the industry newsletter
Electricity Daily, the report suggests that the rest of the bill is "pretty
small potatoes" too. The article's conclusion? "Nothing
in the energy legislation now under consideration by a House-Senate conference
committee is likely to have much impact on real energy markets."
Sen. Ted Stevens,
R-Alaska, and GOP Gov. Frank Murkowski said they remain convinced that
an energy bill will emerge from a House-Senate conference committee
this fall that includes the House provision opening part of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. "I really think this
is a crisis era for energy pricing and energy policy," said Stevens,
the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. But Stevens and Murkowski,
who were colleagues for years in the Senate until Murkowski left last
year to run for governor, did not agree on strategy entirely. At an
appearance in Fairbanks, Murkowski predicted there would be no Democratic
filibuster of an energy bill with ANWR language because Senate Minority
Leader Daschle needs the pro-ethanol provisions of the bill to help
him with what is expected to be a tough re-election battle in his native
South Dakota. "I don't think you're going to see those high-profile
members threaten to filibuster the conference report," Murkowski
said. But that talk made Stevens a bit nervous. "I'm not going
to talk about the opposition," he said. "They haven't seen
our final language, and I think that a lot of people, including the
governor, are talking too much about what may happen in conference."
August 1, 2003
In a surprise
turn-around, the senate passed last year's Democratic energy bill. This
bill does not open the arctic refuge to drilling, but it starts the
Senators to Push Energy Bill Leaders Threaten to Postpone August Recess
Until Legislation Is Passed
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 28, 2003; Page A19
leaders will try this week to pass a massive energy package sought
by President Bush and are threatening to force colleagues to delay
a cherished August recess until the work is done.
attempts to create a winning coalition by appealing to a spectrum of
energy interests as broad as the economy itself.
main bill should be found acceptable by an overwhelming majority," declared
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), chairman of the Energy and Natural
Resources Committee, as debate on the bill resumed Thursday. "The
idea is, if you want to recess, finish the energy bill."
would expand nuclear power; support construction of a $20 billion gas
pipeline from Alaska; double production of corn-based motor fuel; fund
research on cleaner coal, hydrogen fuel cells and high-tech light bulbs;
speed up permits for oil and gas drilling; create corridors for new
transmission lines; and permit wind farms and coal production on Indian
tax measure offers $16 billion in subsidies and incentives for energy
production and conservation by 2008. The tax benefits would include
credits to motorists purchasing hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles and
homeowners who buy renewable energy devices such as solar panels and
energy-efficient appliances. The Senate is also trying to vote on this
measure this week.
consensus may not materialize.
and political urgency on energy issues have faded since the spring,
when U.S. forces were rushing to secure Iraqi oil fields and energy
prices vibrated up and down on the war news.
disputes remain over the choice of drilling for energy in public lands
or protecting them.
campaign issues will surface in this week's debate, with confrontations
between White House and Democratic positions on auto fuel economy standards,
climate protection, energy conservation and responses to the Enron
scandal. A bill this big may collapse of its own weight if too many
senators oppose its final provisions or are uneasy about its consequences,
Senate strategists say.
wildly optimistic to think that a bill with several hundred amendments
could get through the Senate in a week," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan
(N.D.), the top Democrat on the Interior Department appropriations
subcommittee. "It is certainly important to have an energy bill,
but we have to get it right. I know they are impatient, but it has
been on the floor only eight days."
But with other
controversial congressional measures waiting their turn, this week
may be the window for energy legislation this year.
seeks to speed up the federal permitting for oil and gas drilling,
a frequently drawn-out process that energy companies blame for cutting
production and environmental groups defend. But many other major provisions
would not have a big impact for years.
do more with energy policy run into powerful regional, industrial and
political interests, said former senator Timothy E. Wirth (D-Colo.),
a leader of a foundation-backed energy coalition composed of business,
labor and environmental groups.
oil, utility and transportation industries have strong political
support, Wirth said. He added that although the environmental lobby
can block opponents' initiatives, it isn't as effective in gaining
support for its agenda. "As
a consequence," he said, "little progress has been made toward
breaking the gridlock."
House approved an energy bill in April with a 247 to 175 vote in
what the president called "a major step forward in the effort to secure
our nation's energy future." The final vote came after the Republican
majority rejected Democratic amendments to increase energy conservation
programs in the bill, reduce subsidies for oil and gas production,
and tighten regulations on electricity producers.
failed Democratic initiatives was a proposal to increase the fuel efficiency
of sport-utility vehicles by 5 percent by 2010.
bill authorizes drilling along the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
coast in Alaska. But the Senate has already voted against that initiative.
if Domenici brings a bill out of the Senate this week, finding common
ground between House and Senate versions later this year would be
a tough challenge, members of Congress said. © 2003 The Washington
has a chance to protect Maine's environment
senators working to include measures in the energy bill that would
benefit the state's environmental future
Press Herald (Maine) • Editorial
hopes to finish debate on the omnibus energy bill next week - a massive
document. As of last week, the super-sized bill had 269 amendments
- and counting - including some from Maine lawmakers who are trying
to protect the health of the state's natural resources and its people.
Wildlife Refuge: The Senate - including Maine Senators Olympia Snowe
and Susan Collins - rejected a provision to include language in the
energy bill that would open up the Alaskan refuge to oil drilling.
The House version does include the language, though, and drilling in
the refuge remains an energy priority of the White House. The issue,
therefore, is far from dead.
point to the nation's dependence on foreign oil to justify exploration
and drilling in the refuge, but the amount of oil retrieved from the
refuge wouldn't be significant enough to reduce reliance on imported
oil. Some environmental groups estimate the ANWR oil reserves would
be used up in months. The environmental and cultural damage inflicted
on the area would last far longer.
July 23, 2003
warming interferes with Alaska oil drilling
NEWS SERVICE WASHINGTON -- Global warming, which most climate experts
blame mainly on large-scale burning of oil and other fossil fuels,
is interfering with efforts in Alaska to discover yet more oil.
U.S. Department of Energy plans to help oil companies and Alaska officials
find a way around the problem.
state of Alaska rule says heavy exploration equipment can be used on
fragile tundra only when the ground is frozen to 12 inches deep and
covered by at least 6 inches of snow.
because winters in the Arctic are becoming shorter, the number of days
the tundra meets those conditions has shrunk from more than 200 in
1970 to only 103 last year, a state document notes.
Energy Department is providing a $270,000 grant to help determine whether
there are ways the equipment can be used even when the tundra is not
protected by snow.
a June 3 news release, the Energy Department did not refer to global
warming. Instead, it quoted Mike Smith, the assistant energy secretary
for fossil energy, as saying the grant will be combined with $70,000
put up by oil companies to "refine our understanding of the tundra's
resistance to disturbances.
according to the state's description of the research, the shorter period
for frozen tundra "appears consistent with findings of general
warming in the Alaska Arctic associated with global climate change."
is unlikely that the oil industry can implement successful exploration
and development plans with a winter work season consistently less than
120 days," says the Alaska project description. "Therefore,
it is imperative that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources develop
a new set of criteria that will simultaneously increase the number
of days available to companies to conduct exploration and ice road
construction in winter while providing equal or greater environmental
protection of the tundra."
of the arguments by those who favor oil exploration in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge is that work there would be conducted only during winter
months so that the tundra would be protected.
Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
and a vocal opponent of ANWR development, said that "for years,
proponents of drilling in the Arctic refuge have unpersuasively argued
that by doing all their development during the winter season on ice
roads, the impact on the tundra would be negligible."
they admit that they can't afford to drill unless they are allowed
to trample the tundra in the non-winter season," he said. "The
supreme irony is that the winter season is getting shorter because
of a pronounced warming of the climate brought on, in part, by the
burning of oil."
Pomerance, president of Americans for Equitable Climate Solutions,
a group that explores climate issues, said the Energy Department grant" validates
the fact that Alaska is warming rapidly and that significant damage
SENATE ENERGY BILL
ACTUALLY POSSIBLE THIS MONTH
indications from June were that there would be no Senate Energy bill
before the fall, just before their July 4th recess, Senate Energy Committee
Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) said: "We will have an energy bill
passed before the Senate's month-long recess begins in early August.
Of that I have absolutely no doubt."
exact timing of the Senate bill is still unclear. Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist indicated that floor action has been postponed until mid-
to late July. The Senate bill faces heated debate over measures related
to climate change, automobile fuel economy, financial incentives for
an Alaska natural gas pipeline, and a federal electricity grid plan
that has enraged Southern and Western lawmakers. Some $15 billion worth
of tax incentives are also expected to be inserted in the legislation.
the Senate bill actually did pass in late July, it would still be at
least September before any conference committee could happen to work
out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Among the more contentious differences at that time include provisions
in the Senate bill to increase ethanol use and provisions in the House
bill to change the law to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
400 amendments have been proposed in the Senate bill, including 50
to 60 "meaningless" ones likely to be stripped from the debate
schedule, Domenici said.
of the more contentious issues that could possibly stall the Senate’s
efforts to pass their energy bill is a plan by the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission to open the nation's patchwork transmission grid to greater
DISMANTLING OF ALASKA
COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
lawmakers have just finished an all-out assault on Alaska’s spectacular
coastal areas. Under the guise of “permit streamlining,” the
Alaska Legislature and Governor Murkowski have wiped out decades-worth
of evolution in Alaska’s coastal management laws and erected
barriers to the court system for all but corporate interests. Examples
of how the State has gone from “doing it wrong” to “doing
it worse” include:
of the Alaska Coastal Management Program
the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP) has provided stringent
environmental safeguards to protect coastal habitats and subsistence
resources from the impacts of development. A unique characteristic
of this law was that local communities could, in large part, use it
to customize environmentally protective standards for their regions,
which forced some of the largest oil companies in the world to be sensitive
to local environments.
A new law,
passed this year, gutted these protections and will result in weakened
protections for fisheries, water quality, estuaries and other fragile
coastal habitats. It also weakens the once-strong legal voice of the
local communities that know these resources best.
remains to be seen whether the weakened version of the ACMP will
still comply with the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. If it
Alaska coastal communities not only will have lost fundamental environmental
protections, they will lose millions of dollars in federal funds as
the Courthouse Doors to the Public
with wiping out the substance of the ACMP, the Legislature also acceded
to the desires of the oil industry to slam courthouse doors to those
who would challenge state decisions under the coastal management program.
If the state decides, for example, a new tank farm can be built near
a coastal wetland without harming coastal habitats, the local coastal
district or the builder of the tank farm could challenge the decision
in court, but a resident of a nearby village could not.
Bay Oil Spill Bigger than Reported By The Associated Press
- An oil spill at Prudhoe Bay is about 12 times larger than originally
estimated, according to officials with the state Department of Environmental
oil company BP first reported the spill Tuesday, regulators and oil-company
workers thought about 500 gallons, or 12 barrels, of oil and other
fluids including oily water had spilled from a ruptured pipeline.
department on Friday revised the spill estimate to 1,500 gallons of
crude oil and about 4,500 gallons of "produced water," which
flows out of Prudhoe Bay oil wells along with the crude.
cleanup crews continued work Friday, wells producing up to 10,000 barrels
of oil a day remained shut down pending repairs to the buried 24-inch
pipeline. The line carried oil from well pads to a nearby processing
center where oil, water and other fluids are separated.
shutdown is interrupting the flow of oil, worth close to $300,000 a
day, said Dave MacDowell, a spokesman for BP, which operates the Prudhoe
Bay oil field.
said he didn't know when the wells would begin producing again. "At
this point, our focus is on the cleanup," MacDowell said.
with the increased estimate, the spill historically doesn't rank as
particularly large for the North Slope, said Ed Meggert, the Department
of Environmental Conservation's on-scene emergency-response coordinator
the original estimate would change was to be expected, he said. "A
lot of the spill was under snow and ice, so the initial estimates were
due to go one way or the other," he said.
the plus side, the area of tundra affected by the spill remains confined
to well under an acre, Meggert said. The buried pipe will be unearthed
as part of an investigation, BP officials said Friday. Corrosion is
the suspected cause, and the oil could have leaked from the pipe slowly,
without being noticed, over the winter, Meggert said.
workers hope to flush the spill site with warm water and then vacuum
the oil to minimize tundra disturbance. No wildlife has been affected,
the Department of Environmental Conservation reported.
Delays Energy Bill to Cook Up Another Arctic Scheme
Senate has put off the timing for final passage of the Energy bill
until some time in June after the Memorial Day Recess. Over a hundred
amendments remain to be considered. When the bill is taken up again
in June, it is likely that it will yet take several weeks before all
the amendments are worked through on the floor of the Senate.
other news, it is apparent now that despite the Senate voting twice
in less than a year to oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge, some Senators
are still pushing to have the drilling proposal included in any final
the House energy bill that passed includes a drilling provision, some
Senate leaders have stated repeatedly that they have no intention of
including Arctic drilling in their version of the energy bill. If that
holds true, House and Senate will meet and work out the differences
between the whole bill, including the difference over drilling in the
May 15, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Interior
Gale Norton, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), Sen.
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) held a news
conference on Capitol Hill to provide an update on the energy plan,
released in May 2001.
seen the Senate reaction to a particular proposal on ANWR," Norton
said. "I think now we have to look creatively to see if there
is some way to craft a proposal that will be one that can be passed
by the Senate."
most of the press conference was talking about the prospects for getting
a bill to the President to sign, many of the reporters present asked
Arctic specific questions.
think any bill that's a step in the right direction is a bill we should
send," Barton said, responding to questions about whether it would
be worth it to send a bill to the president without an ANWR provision. "The
best bill would have ANWR in it and I support ANWR. I think it has
a legitimate shot of passage."
importantly, after the press conference ended, Barton stayed to take
a few more questions, all of them about the Arctic. Barton states that
there will be a package with an Arctic compromise. When asked if there
are already meetings between the House and Senate to work out such
a ploy, Barton said that there are meetings between House Energy and
Commerce Chair Billy Tauzin (R-LA), House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL),
House Resources Committee Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Senator Craig Thomas
specifically on Arctic.
that goes through a conference committee and has Arctic in it would
have to be filibustered in order to prevent drilling when it came back
to the Senate for a final vote. Energy and Natural Resources Chairman
Domenici had hoped to complete work on the bill before Memorial Day,
a schedule most Senate sources and lobbyists long considered far too
aggressive. Once consideration of the bill begins in earnest, Democrats
still plan on pressing for scores of amendments. Despite Domenici's
best efforts, it is considered increasingly unlikely legislation will
emerge from the floor this summer, sources said.
to http://capwiz.com/awc/issues/alert/?alertid=2175191 to
and the 108th Congress
May 8, the Bush administration released a statement asking the Senate
to include a provision in the Senate Energy Bill that would include
opening the Refuge to drilling. The Senate Energy Bill does not, as
it stands, contain any reference to development in the Refuge and the
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman has said that
he doesn’t intend to include Arctic drilling in the Senate Energy
Bill as he doesn’t feel it would pass in the Senate. This bill
will be discussed over the next few weeks. No amendments have been
added to open the Refuge at this time.
Vote Could Be Part Of Debate On Senate Energy Bill
intend to take another pass at allowing drilling for oil and gas in
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) when the Senate takes
up omnibus energy legislation this week (May 5), but the issue is not
expected to become a major diversion to passing a bill. Floor debate
could begin Monday on the bill (S 140) that the Energy and Natural
Resources Committee approved April 30. The measure will be merged with
a $15.7 billion package (S 597) of energy tax incentives approved by
the Finance Committee on April 2. The two bills largely reflect President
Bush's energy agenda, except their is no provision for ANWR. Senate
Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said it is too early to determine
how the issue will come up in debate but he indicated it will not be
a priority for GOP leaders as they try to pass the energy bill before
the Memorial Day holiday. After Republicans failed to round up enough
votes for a simple majority vote on ANWR in March, there is little
stomach for trying to push a provision through under the threat of
a filibuster by opponents.
Wilderness! Reopening A Frontier To Development
than a century after historians declared an end to the American Frontier,
the Interior Department made a somewhat similar announcement last month,
with no fanfare. On a Friday night, just after Congress had left for
spring break, the government said it would no longer consider huge
swaths of public land to be wilderness.
administration declared that it would end reviews of Western landholdings
for new wilderness protection. As long as the lands had been under
consideration for the American wilderness system, they had temporary
protection from development.
a single order, the Bush administration removed more than 200 million
acres from further wilderness study, including caribou stamping ground
in Alaska, the red rock canyons and mesas of southern Utah, Case Mountain
with its sequoia forests in California and a wall of rainbow-colored
rock known as Vermillion Basin in Colorado.
declaring an end to wild land surveys, the administration ruled out
protection of these areas as formal wilderness which, by law, are supposed
to be places people can visit but not stay. Now, these areas, managed
by the Bureau of Land Management, could be opened to mining, drilling,
logging or road-building.
idea of designating an area as wilderness wild land left as is, for
its own sake is an American construct. Artists and writers in the mid-19th
century led the charge for wilderness, with Henry David Thoreau arguing
from his pond-side home in Concord, Mass., that wilderness sanctuaries
were a necessary complement to civilization.
setting aside the first wildlife refuge in 1903, on Pelican Island
in Florida, President Theodore Roosevelt protected a patch of America
that is now the smallest of the formally protected lands a mere five
acres. And since passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, 106 million
acres have been given the wild lands designation, with more than half
of that total in Alaska.
the years, the Bureau of Land Management, the nation's biggest landlord,
with 262 million acres under its control, has continued to survey its
vast holdings, trying to determine whether more land is suitable for
wilderness. But the Bush administration says wilderness reviews should
have ended 13 years ago, at the close of a study period mandated by
Congress. This interpretation is challenged by conservationists who
plan to appeal the Bush order in court.
the Friday night declaration represents the beginning of a broad new
land management policy, the Interior Department has not said so. There
was not even an announcement of the end of the wilderness reviews on
the department's Web site.
the change came about in a settlement of a 1996 lawsuit filed by the
State of Utah against the Interior Department over a reinventory of
three million acres conducted by Bruce Babbitt, the interior secretary
at the time. Most of the lawsuit had been dismissed and sat dormant
until the state amended its complaint in March.
does not mean that someday down the road we may still manage some of
these lands as wilderness," said Patricia Lynn Scarlett, an assistant
move follows a consistent pattern in the president's environmental
policy: to change the way the land is managed, without changing the
law. Whether the issue is allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone National
Park or logging in the Pacific Northwest, the course has been to settle
lawsuits by opponents of wild land protection, opening up the areas
to wide use, without going to Congress to rewrite the rules.
and gas developers and others point out that the Clinton administration
did the same thing making broad changes of policy by administrative
order but on behalf of an environmental constituency. In their view,
wilderness protection amounts to a land grab, putting potential timber
or mining areas off limits. They say citizen groups were abusing the
law by bringing land surveys to the government, which then managed
the land as de facto wilderness. Leaders of some Western states have
long complained that wilderness study essentially eliminates the chance
to gain any economic value from the land, money that is needed for
many conservationists, the announcement was more than another setback.
Wilderness, in the oft-quoted line of the writer Wallace Stegner, is "the
geography of hope." To have that geography capped, they argue,
has had the same effect on some outdoor lovers as the fencing of the
public range had on open-country cattle ranchers. "They are trying
to declare, by fiat, that wilderness does not exist," said Heidi
McIntosh of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
interior secretary, Gale A. Norton, said that the policy reflected
the administration's attempt to cooperate with local officials and
heed concerns of industries that rely on public lands' resources. "The
Department of the Interior believes that we should manage these lands
in a way that provides the greatest benefit to the public," Ms.
Norton wrote in a letter to Senator Robert F. Bennett, Republican of
another letter, Ms. Norton said it seemed senseless to consider declaring
any more wilderness areas in Alaska because its elected officials are
against expanding this protection. But critics say that in California,
a majority of elected officials favor more wilderness. And in New Mexico,
Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, has asked the government to prevent
drilling in 1.8 million acres of the Otero Mesa, an area that has all
the qualities of wilderness.
New Mexico land is the largest contiguous piece of Chihuahuan Desert
grassland left in North America, Governor Richardson said. It may be
wild, but for now, it can no longer be Wilderness.