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Numbers favor drilling in ANWR

Washington, D.C. - A key Senate opponent of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge concedes it's very possible drilling may be approved this year. That’s because, says California Democrat Barbara Boxer, ANWR legislation is being included in a budget bill, which cannot be blocked in the Senate.

Boxer is undisputedly a political foe of those who want oil drilling to take place in ANWR. For years, Boxer has been a champion for environmentalists who want ANWR left untouched. Today, however, during a hearing on energy prices, Boxer at one point suggested the ANWR fight in Congress may finally be lost for good.

"Drilling in Alaska is controversial. It is going to move forward, it looks like,” said Boxer.

It was a minor comment but it prompted the question, is Boxer conceding she and other drilling opponents could lose the ANWR fight? Later in an interview, Boxer said essentially, yes. The numbers favor drilling supporters.

"If the reconciliation bill passes, it's a done deal because we don't have the votes to take it out,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. “We already had the vote and we lost it."

Although Boxer is not declaring outright defeat, the California Democrat is already looking ahead to other options saying she's starting a petition drive to oil companies and urging a boycott of those that drill in ANWR for oil.

The reason why drilling opponents face a tough battle ahead is because the budget bill cannot be filibustered or blocked in the Senate, as other pieces of legislation can. And without a filibuster available, drilling opponents lack the tool they normally use to prevent drilling from being approved.

Which means Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens had reason in a recent interview to feel confident about finally achieving his longtime goal of making ANWR drilling a reality.

"I expect ANWR to go through, and I expect to win every vote we have on ANWR from now on,” said Stevens.

Keep in mind drilling supporters like Stevens still could fail. The entire budget measure could collapse for reasons unrelated to ANWR. But as of now, Boxer thinks there's a 75 percent chance the budget measure will pass.

"If there's a change of heart, then ANWR has new life around here. But, let's be honest. We don't have the votes that we had before. That's the problem,” said Boxer.

A problem for those like Boxer who want ANWR left as it is. A key Senate vote on ANWR drilling could take place in early November.

This article is from KTUU News in Anchorage, Alaska

Permalink :: Posted by Clay Butcher on October 09, 2005 :: ::
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