Thursday, March 17, 2005

GEEE, what a surprise.....Senate Backs Searching for Oil in Alaska Refuge

Wow, I bet we're all real surprised...

I knew there was something sneaky about the recent spike in gas prices - they knew there was a vote coming up so they wanted to increase rage amongst consumers to be able to pass this bill. You see these "tricks" all the time. You know, the old game - the sky is falling, so we need to give the power to (insert company or industry here) to save the day. Yet, even if there was opposition from people they still would have done it - so who knows.

Senate Backs Searching for Oil in Alaska Refuge

By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As U.S. oil prices soared to a record high on
Wednesday, the Senate gave President Bush's energy plan a major boost by
voting to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil

Republicans have tried for more than two decades to open ANWR to oil
exploration. The Bush administration, which views ANWR as the
centerpiece of its national energy plan, was blocked in the past four
years by a Senate coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Pete Domenici, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee, led the fight to defeat a Democratic effort to strip ANWR
drilling language from a broad budget resolution funding the federal
government in fiscal 2006. The vote was close, 51 to 49 in favor of
keeping the drilling provision in the bill.

However, the Republican plan to give oil companies access to the refuge
is far from a done deal.
Last year, Congress failed to reach a budget agreement because of
fighting among Republicans. This year, the House of Representatives and
Senate have sharply different versions of budget plans for tax cuts and
spending reductions.

The refuge sprawls across more than 19 million acres in northeastern
Alaska, an area roughly the size of South Carolina. The Senate plan
would restrict drilling to ANWR's 1.5-million acre coastal plain.

"I hope Congress passes ANWR. There's a way to get some additional (oil)
reserves here at home on the books," President Bush said at a news
conference on Wednesday.

Opponents said there is not enough oil in the refuge to justify harming
the area's caribou, musk oxen, polar bears, migratory birds and other
wildlife. Instead, they say, Congress should tighten mileage standards
for vehicles to reduce U.S. oil demand and reliance on oil imports.

"I think it is very foolish to say that oil development in a wildlife
refuge can co-exist," said Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington, who
sponsored the amendment to strike the ANWR drilling language. "For those
who say somehow this is going to affect gas prices... we won't see this
oil for 10 years. It would have a minimum impact on markets."


The government has estimated energy companies would find it
cost-efficient to recover at least 6 billion barrels of oil from ANWR if
prices were at or above $35 a barrel.

U.S. crude oil prices soared to a new trading high of $56.50 a barrel at
the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, after the Energy
Department issued a weekly report showing a steep decline in gasoline

The ANWR provision calls on the federal government to raise more than $5
billion from companies in leasing fees to hunt for oil. Alaska would
keep half of the money.

Republican leaders put the ANWR provision in the budget resolution
because budget bills cannot be filibustered under Senate rules, as
Democrats had threatened to do to any measure that allowed drilling in
the refuge. The budget resolution requires a simple majority for
passage, instead of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster on other bills.

Domenici said sophisticated, new technology would not harm the land
being searched for oil. "To explore to find out whether (oil) is there
will absolutely do no damage to anything," he said.

Drilling supporters also argue ANWR could eventually boost U.S. oil
supplies by an extra 1 million barrels per day (bpd), cutting U.S.
dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East.

The United States consumes about 20.8 million barrels of oil a day and
imports account for 58 percent of supply.

"What's going to happen to America when we are totally dependent on
foreign countries and we are held hostage by any country in the world
that produces oil? I believe we have a crisis," Domenici said.

The Senate is expected to vote later this week on the overall budget
resolution that contains the ANWR drilling language. That measure would
then need to be reconciled with the House's budget legislation, which
does not include an ANWR provision.

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