Thursday, November 10, 2005

ANWR Drilling Dropped from House Bill

Five years in office, with Republican majorities in Congress, BushCo is still having trouble getting approval to open up ANWR to oil drilling. The Washington Post reports that the House nixed the plan:
House GOP leaders agreed last night to strip plans to permit oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the offshore continental shelf from a $54 billion budget-cutting measure, probably securing the votes to pass the bill today.
The move is a blow to President Bush, who has made expanded oil exploration a priority since he took office. Lawmakers said the White House applied pressure yesterday to Republicans to save the drilling provisions, especially in Alaska, even wooing conservative Democrats who have steadfastly opposed the GOP budget package.
Perhaps knowing that they wouldn't see a drop of oil for at least 7 to 12 years dampened their enthsusiasm. Or maybe this isn't a good time to be doing favors for oil executives, who dutifully came to Capitol Hill yesterday to be lectured on high gas prices and windfall profits:
Senators struck a note of populist outrage when they ordered oil executives to appear before the Energy and Commerce committees to explain high fuel prices and record company profits. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), announcing the hearing, said it would expose "those who abuse the free-enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans."
But instead of calling oil executives on the carpet yesterday, senators gave them the red-carpet treatment.
To preserve the executives' delicate sensibilities, they were allowed to testify without the usual swearing in:
When Energy Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska, $102,190) announced that he would not require the executives to give their testimony under oath, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash., $9,400) asked for a vote on the issue. Stevens shot back: "There will be no vote . . . It's the decision of the chairman, and I have made that decision."

The executives left with some of their dignity intact but without the prize they wanted--the chance to push the caribou aside to make room for their drilling rigs.


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