House Approves Bush's Alaskan Oil Drilling Plan

Thursday, August 02, 2001
The Bush administration's plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling was approved by the House of Representatives early on Thursday, but it faces a tougher fight in the Senate, which wants U.S. energy policy to focus on conservation.

The key issue in the debate over a broad national energy policy is the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), home to polar bears, caribou and 160 kinds of migratory birds.

While green groups and many Democrats view the remote and pristine refuge as an American Serengetti, drilling proponents contend oil and gas could be safely extracted from a tiny area. Republican-led House passed, on a 240 to 189 vote, a comprehensive energy bill that included drilling in ANWR.

A separate amendment to the bill to block drilling in the refuge failed on a much closer vote, 223 to 206, handing a huge victory to the White House. The vote was a defeat for green groups, some of which had threatened to work to defeat pro-drilling lawmakers in next year's congressional election.

Democratic-controlled Senate was to finalize its energy bill in September, after Congress returns from vacation.

Vice President Dick Cheney, a former top executive of oilfield services giant Halliburton Co., praised the House vote.

"A lot of the pundits said we'll never get an energy bill out of the Congress," Cheney said, adding that the House vote was "surprisingly strong."

Lobbying by the Teamsters Union, which backs drilling for the jobs it would create, helped woo three dozen Democrats. An equal number of Republicans voted to protect the refuge.

"Now our battle goes to the Senate," said Jerry Hood, the Teamsters' energy adviser. "The Teamsters have the facts and the momentum to get this legislation to President Bush's desk for his signature."

Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska, the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, said he looked forward to a debate in the Senate on drilling.

"One thing is clear, reports of ANWR's demise have been greatly exaggerated," he said.

The Senate, which has yet to finish drafting an energy bill, is virtually certain to focus on conservation and energy efficiency instead of more drilling on federal lands.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle declared drilling in ANWR dead months ago.

"I do believe the votes are there to prevent it," he said. The South Dakota Democrat acknowledged the promise of new jobs in the Alaskan refuge was a strong selling point for the Republicans but said the environmental risks were too great.

"I truly believe that the vast majority of the American people want us to find our oil elsewhere," Daschle added. The Alaskan refuge would provide only about six months' worth of U.S. oil needs, he said.

Former vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts vowed to block any ANWR drilling legislation. About a half-dozen moderate Republican senators - mostly from Northeast states - are on record opposing drilling.

"I will filibuster any effort to drill in the refuge," Kerry said. "It will never pass the Senate."

"In the end, we can create millions more jobs cleaning the environment and developing clean energy technologies than we can polluting and destroying one of the last pristine places on the face of the earth," Kerry added.

And Senate Democrats contend that stricter conservation measures - such are requiring Detroit to make gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles that get better mileage - would save more oil than can be drilled from ANWR.

Opening the refuge is critical to the White House's goal of boosting U.S. energy supplies and reducing imports of oil.

Government estimates say the refuge may hold 16 billion barrels of crude. The U.S. market consumes close to 20 million barrels of petroleum a day and must import about half of that.

The White House maintains drilling would require only about 2,000 acres of the refuge's 19 million acres, and would not harm the environment.

However, green groups say that 2,000 acres would not include all roads and pipelines built to support any drilling.

"The acreage for oil drilling won't be the small, compact area that some members of Congress would have you believe," said a spokeswoman from the Sierra Club. "In reality, the oil development would be a sprawling web of destruction stretching across hundreds of square miles."

Interior Secretary Gale Norton, whose department would issue rules for any ANWR drilling, said exploratory wells - which are not permanent fixtures - might not be included in the 2,000 acre figure.

"It's only the permanent facilities that count in the 2,000 acres," Norton said.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group said the House bill would mean more pollution and give some $33 billion in tax breaks to energy firms already earning record profits.

"We hope that when the Senate takes up the energy issue, they develop a safe energy plan to lead America to a smarter, cleaner energy future," said PIRG director Gene Karpinski.

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter July 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds


Baltic Index Down as Rates for Large Vessels Stay Weak

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, fell on Wednesday on weaker rates for larger vessels and supramaxes.

Summer Cruise to North Sea Oil Rigs Amazes Tourists

Bored with palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas? Then the gigantic oil platforms of the North Sea beckon. The first ever "rig-spotting" cruise just ended off the coast of Norway,

No Clues on Hanjin's Financial Health

Cash-strapped Hanjin Shipping Co. sources say that the negotiations with tonnage providers for lower rates are undergoing, but wouldn't say much else.   According to Korea Herald, the country's No.

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Navigation Offshore Oil Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0792 sec (13 req/sec)