October 19, 2005
04:22 PM

Washington, D. C . – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Commmittee today approved legislative language instructing the Secretary of the Interior to create and implement an environmentally-sensitive oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that impacts no more than 2,000 surface acres.

C hairman Pete V. Domenici: 

“The time is ripe for ANWR.  Global and national conditions mandate the environmentally-sound development of oil and gas in the Arctic . The Senate first passed ANWR legislation in 1996. If that hadn’t been vetoed, I don’t think we would be paying $3 a gallon for gasoline today. The hurricanes in the Gulf underscored what Congress has known for along time: We must produce more of our own oil and we must diversify the places where we produce it. We must do it for our economy and our energy security.

“It’s past time to do this. I say let’s get it done. I congratulate the senators on the committee who recognize this. I look forward to reporting the budget bill out of the Budget Committee next week and passing it out of the Senate early next month.” 

The legislation approved by the committee today is Title IV of the budget reconciliation bill to be marked up by the Senate Budget Committee on October 26.  The committee passed Title IV in response to instructions from the Budget Committee to raise $2.4 billion in revenue for fiscal years 2006-2010. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the competitive sale of oil and gas leases in the plain will raise $2.5 billion during that time.

During today’s business meeting, three amendments were offered and defeated. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, offered an amendment to ensure the payment to the U.S. Treasury of 50 percent of revenues from oil and gas leasing and production on the Coastal Plain. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, offered an amendment prohibiting the exportation of oil and gas produced under ANWR leases. Ranking Member Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, offered an amendment to limit the authorization of oil and gas development on the Coastal Plain in the same manner as in other units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.