House votes for Arctic drilling again; Senate likely to kill plan

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Drilling in the Arctic has become a major point of contention in the debate over how to wean the nation from foreign oil and bring down gasoline prices. Backers of the drilling contend that the promise of 10.3 billion barrels of oil would lead to greater energy independence and job creation. Opponents say the risk of spills and other environmental damage outweighs benefits and delays the need to develop more alternative fuels. “A vote against energy production in ANWR is a vote for increasing our dependence on foreign oil and sending good American jobs overseas – two things we simply cannot do anymore,” said Rep. Richard W. Pombo of California, chairman of the House Resources Committee and the bill’s sponsor. But Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., said the bill represented “the triumph of politics over geology” and would not reduce the price of gasoline at the pump. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Mass., said: “It will be five years at best, and probably eight years, before the first barrel of oil flows” if drilling is allowed. WASHINGTON – With gasoline prices well above $3 a gallon as the Memorial Day weekend approaches, the House on Thursday again voted to approve drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was at least the 12th time that the House had voted to allow energy exploration in a small piece of the preserve’s 19 million acres along Alaska’s northern coastal plain. The final tally was 225-201, with 27 Democrats joining the majority and 30 Republicans voting against. But given the Senate’s recent disposition toward Arctic drilling, the vote might be little more than symbolic. Since 1995, when Congress passed an Arctic drilling bill and President Clinton vetoed it, Senate proponents of drilling have failed to gather the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster against it. The outcome is expected to be no different this year. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman applauded the House vote, but the administration was dealt a setback Wednesday night, when the House voted on financing for one of President George W. Bush’s signature energy initiatives, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. In providing $24.4 billion for the Energy Department – about $300 million more than the administration requested and $327 million above current spending – lawmakers gave Bush $120 million for the partnership, less than half the $250 million he had sought. Under the plan, the United States and Russia would provide reactor fuel to other countries and reclaim the spent fuel to assure that it would not be used for weapons.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img