Monday, December 19, 2005

Senate can't make up its mind

CSMonitor reported Early Monday, the House passed a $453.5 billion Defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006 and a related Defense authorization bill, as well as nearly $40 billion in government spending cuts over the next five years. The package now faces intense opposition in the Senate, especially an 11th-hour decision by House and Senate negotiators to include in the Defense-spending bill a controversial plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling. Senate Democrats say including the ANWR provision in the Defense bill violates Senate rules and is an abuse of power. They threaten to use all procedural means in Senate rules to block it.

Yet on March 22 we learned the Senators had approved oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by a vote of 51-49. Knowing they didn't have the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster, pro-drilling Senators tacked the drilling provision onto the filibuster-proof budget resolution proposal for 2006. The House screwed up by not just passing ANWR in the budget bill, but why is the Senate so upset that something they approved earlier has now been approved by the House.

Proponents of ANWR drilling have said over and over that with slant drilling they can produce a large portion of the ANWR field with just a very small surface area drilling area, and that it can be done in an environmentally sound matter. Rather than fighting allowing it being done at all, they should call the bluff of the oil companies and allow drilling, but with a requirement that it be done as they say it can be done, and establishing a firm liability on the part of the oil companies to do it in an environmentally sound matter.

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