Big win for Arctic Refuge after yesterday's setback



Posted on 11 April 2003  | 
The disappointing US House of Representatives vote in favor of drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on 10 April overshadowed a major conservation victory for the refuge that came the very next day. On Friday 11 April, US Congress adopted the conference report on the Budget Resolution which was clear of any instruction to the authorizing committees to drill in the Arctic Refuge. Quite simply, this means that the pro-drilling members of Congress conceded defeat on this back-door attempt to sneak a drilling provision into the budget. After the House of Representatives passed their version of the Budget Resolution which contained a hidden provision for drilling in the Arctic Refuge, the Senate rejected a proposal to add Arctic drilling to the budget on 19 March with a vote of 52-48. The Resolution then went to conference, and when the measure emerged, the conference committee had acceded to the Senate position of no drilling in the refuge. The fact that this drilling provision did not pass the Senate with a simple majority is a clear indication that drilling proponents cannot get the 60 votes needed to authorize arctic drilling on the Senate floor. (60 votes would be needed for authorization to break the filibuster that some Senators have vowed to use to block Arctic drilling.) It remains to be seen what threats the refuge will face in the Senate Energey Committee, but this victory in the Congressional Budget Resolution was a major defeat to those who want to open the wildlife reserve to oil drilling. The inability of drilling proponents to deliver a majority in the Senate means that the environmental community is well-positioned to handle any future threats to the Arctic Refuge that come in this Congress. The fight is not over yet WWF urges US citizens to ask the US Congress to oppose oil and gas development in the refuge and to designate the coastal plain of the refuge as wilderness. For further information: Tom Lalley Communications Officer, WWF-US Tel: +1 202 778 9544 E-mail: tom.lalley@wwfus.org

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