A proposal to open Alaska’s arctic coastal plain to oil and gas drilling is part of a new energy package adopted Sept. 28 by the U.S. House Committee on Resources in a 27-16 vote. The bill, “The National Energy Supply Diversification and Disruption Prevention Act,” is one of several measures being considered on Capitol Hill in response to effects of three hurricanes that together have wreaked havoc on the nation’s energy supplies this year.
With crude oil prices expected to rise 34 percent even higher this winter and natural gas costs expected to increase 71 percent, this committee is considering further ways to lower U.S. energy costs by increasing supplies and avoiding supply disruptions with more diverse, reliable domestic fuel sources throughout America, said Resources Chairman Richard W. Pombo, R-Calif.
“Part of the reason we’re here today is there are signs of stirring in the other body as if they are finally realizing their position opposing these measures is ridiculous,” Pombo said. He also noted that the U.S. passed a budget bill last spring that included ANWR drilling on a 51-50 vote.
The final bill, released in draft form Sept. 23, withstood all challenges in the committee markup, including an amendment to strike drilling in the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge offered by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. The amendment failed on a 14-28 vote.
Markey said he opposed the provision because it does nothing to really solve the nation’s energy problems. “Drilling in the Arctic refuge would result in oil being transported to California to be put into largely inefficient vehicles,” without anything being done to make those vehicles more efficient, Markey said.
The full House is expected to vote on energy legislation in October.