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[GreenYes] ANWR
From ENN
Bush slips ANWR oil drilling into new budget

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
By Tom Doggett, Reuters

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush's proposed budget, released Monday, calls for Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and begin leasing tracts in the refuge to oil companies in 2005. 
In his budget submitted to Congress, Bush said leasing ANWR land would raise $2.4 billion in leasing fees in 2005, and half that amount would go toward increased funding for the Energy Department's renewable energy technology research programs over a seven-year period.

The administration said it wants to lease between 400,000 acres (161,874 hectares) and 600,000 acres (242,811 hectares) in the refuge's coastal plain in 2005.

The refuge sprawls across 19 million acres (7.7 million hectares), but only the area's 1.5-million-acre (607,000-hectare) coastal plain would be accessible to energy companies.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said on Monday the administration would still support a compromise that Republican lawmakers offered last year to limit drilling activities in ANWR to just 2,000 acres (809 hectares) at any one time in the 1.5 million acres that would be opened to exploration.

Assuming that oil companies may collectively take at least one week to explore 2,000 acres, and drilling activities would only occur in the winter months in order not to disturb wildlife, it could take between eight and 12 years to fully explore the 400,000 to 600,000 ANWR acres the administration wants to offer in just the first round of leasing.

Last year the Senate, which was Democrat-led at the time, soundly defeated efforts to open the refuge when drilling supporters fell short of the 60 votes needed to end debate on the controversial proposal and allow a final vote on the measure.

This year senate Republicans who support ANWR drilling will likely seize on the administration's estimate of how much money would be brought in from leasing fees.

Backers of drilling in the refuge want to add enabling language to the 2004 budget bill, which cannot be filibustered and would need only 50 votes to pass. Vice President Dick Cheney would be expected to break any tie vote in the 100-member Senate in favor of ANWR drilling.

The Senate's parliamentarian would have to decide whether Senate rules allow an ANWR drilling provision to be added to the budget bill. Drilling proponents claim such language is appropriate for budget legislation because it would raise money for the government.

The administration's plan to open the refuge to drilling suffered a setback on Friday as six Republican senators said they opposed using the must-pass 2004 budget bill to give oil companies access to ANWR. They argue that drilling in the refuge should be fully debated on the Senate floor and not injected into the budget process.

The Interior Department estimates the refuge could hold between 5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. If ANWR were opened, it would take about eight years before the area reached full oil production.


B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 727 8418
email: waynet@no.address

"Experience is what allows us to recognize repeated mistakes."

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