Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Senate Blocks Alaska Refuge Drilling

Senators, from left, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., John Kerry, D-Mass. and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. prepare for a Capitol Hill news conference, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005 to protest a move by Sen Ted Stevens, R-Alaska to include an Arctic drilling provision in the Defense Appropriations Bill. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

After five years, the Republicans are still trying to push ANWR drilling through Congress, and they are still being defeated. This is off Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - The Senate blocked oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge Wednesday, rejecting a must-pass defense spending bill where supporters positioned the quarter-century-old environmental issue to garner broader support.

Drilling backers fell four votes short of getting the required 60 votes to avoid a threatened filibuster of the defense measure over the oil drilling issue. Senate leaders were expected to withdraw the legislation so it could be reworked without the refuge language. The vote was 56-44.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was among those who for procedural reasons cast a "no" vote, so that he could bring the drilling issue up for another vote.

The vote was a stinging defeat for Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who for years has waged an intense fight to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He had thought this time he would finally get his wish.

Stevens called the refuge's oil vital to national security and bemoaned repeated attempts over the years by opponents using the filibuster to kill drilling proposals.

Democrats, conversely, accused Stevens of holding hostage a military spending bill that includes money to support troops in
Iraq and $29 billion for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"Our military is being held hostage by this issue, Arctic drilling," fumed Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader. The Nevada Democrat said the Senate could move quickly to pass the defense bill once the refuge issue was resolved.

"We all agree we want money for our troops. ... This is not about the troops," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a strong critic of letting oil development disturb the refuge in northeastern Alaska.

During the vote, a grim-faced Stevens, 82, who had fought to open the refuge to drilling since 1980 and is the most senior Republican in the Senate, sat midway back in the chamber, watching his colleagues. When it became apparent that he had lost, he briefly talked with Frist, presumably over what move should be taken next. He briefly shook his head, a signal of his disappointment.

So now the Republicans thought they could sneak the ANWR drilling through a big defense bill--probably stating that the ANWR drilling was important to the national security of the US, and to the 'Great War on Terrorism.' What a crock. Let's hope the Democratic senators keep ANWR the way it is.

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