By late September, the Energy Conference Committee was expected to have completed discussion of a number of key provisions of the long-debated energy bill. The conference report would then move through the House and Senate. The big question is, will the most controversial provision-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge-be included in the final bill?
In an effort to put more pressure on the Senate to accept a final bill that includes drilling in ANWR, Conference Committee Chair Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) said that the House GOP had a strategy to link the uncertainties over Iraq with the need for drilling. Tauzin intended to spend the month of August trying to gather support among lawmakers for new drilling in Alaska. He then planned to coordinate with the White House a "public relations campaign" to promote the contention that developing more domestic energy will reduce the nation's dependence on Iraq for steady supplies of oil.
The United States could reduce its dependency on foreign sources of oil much faster through conservation, such as mandating more fuel-efficient cars. In the past, oil company executives have testified that it could take as long as ten years before any oil from drilling in ANWR would be available for public consumption, clearly too long a time-frame to address immediate concerns about dependence on foreign oil.
Congressman Tauzin said that he believed there was a "50-50 chance" that Arctic drilling would be in the final report. By early August Tauzin had made "a half dozen journeys to the other side of the Capitol to engage Democratic senators and urge them to add their names to a bipartisan coalition that supports drilling in ANWR," according to his own spokesperson. Let's hope he was not successful!
What you can do: Our two Senators have been outspoken opponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Let them hear that you support that position and urge them to be steadfast in the face of heavy pressure from the pro-drilling side. You can e-mail the Senators on their websites, or phone or FAX. We do not suggest using regular mail because there still are significant delays with congressional mail (several weeks) due to the anthrax situation.
Senator Robert Torricelli
Senator Jon S. Corzine
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