Senate Once Again Reject Drilliing in Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

Seante rejects another attempt to open ANWR to oil explorationIf We’ve Told You Once We’ve Told You a Thousand Times: NO!

Just a couple weeks ago president Bush chided congress for not opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to “environmentally sensitive” oil exploration, asserting that was a big reason why gas prices are currently so high. It’s the same old song and dance.

Heading their master’s call,  Senators Mitch McConnel of Kentucky and Pete Domenici of New Mexico attempted to tack on their Domestic Energy Production Act to a flood relief bill. The move was rejected yesterday by a vote of 42 to 56 (60 votes are needed for approval).

In a vote of 97–1 the senate agreed to halt any further additions to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the time being. (An interesting analysis of the move and how the Reserve works is offered today in Salon.)

The measure proposed by McConnel and Domenici would open up oil exploration in ANWR and coastal waters off western states, as well as promote the use of expensive, dirty, and dangerous “unconventional” fuels produced from liquid coal and oil shale. 

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid introduced the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008 last week as an alternative measure to the Republican Domestic Energy Production Act.

Sierra Club president Carl Pope applauded the vote in the senate saying in a press release:

The answer to our oil addiction is not to search for a bigger fix. Drilling our coasts and national treasures like the Arctic Refuge and spending billions on dirty and expensive boondoggles like liquid coal and oil shale won’t help hardworking Americans cope with gas prices. It will only add to the tens of billions of dollars the oil industry is already making.

Even at peak production, which could take twenty years, the Arctic Refuge would provide roughly a year’s worth of oil and would reduce gas prices at most by one or two cents a gallon.

Under the leadership of President Bush and his allies in Congress, gas prices have more than doubled, Big Oil has made more than half a trillion dollars in profits over the past five years, and the United States has become even more dangerously addicted to fossil fuels.

Hardworking Americans need real relief instead of the recycled rhetoric and disastrous energy policies that the president and his allies in Congress have pushed for the past seven years. Thankfully the leadership in the Senate has put forward a plan that will actually protect consumers, put America on the path toward a clean energy future, and finally put the brakes on the taxpayer-funded giveaways that have been helping fuel Big Oil’s record profits.

Instead of searching for more ways to pad Big Oil’s bottom line, the Consumer-First Energy Act offers Senators a chance to stop writing a blank check to Big Oil and instead protect consumers and invest in clean energy.

These are the kind of answers we need—solutions that will bring energy costs under control, combat global warming, and leave America’s last wild places intact.”


Sources and Further Reading
Energy Outlook
Sierra Club

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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