Alaska’s two senators applauded the U.S. Senate late yesterday for taking a first step toward opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and development by approving the FY07 Budget Resolution in a vote of 51-49. The legislation includes language instructing the Senate Energy Committee to raise $3 billion, which could result in opening the coastal plain to development later this spring with a first lease sale in 2008, according to a joint statement by Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski.
“Oil and gas exploration is crucial to our nation’s defense and our domestic energy supply. We believe this is the largest concentration of oil and gas in North America. It must be explored and developed,” said Stevens.
“This is a critical first step to victory for Alaska,” added Senator Murkowski. “Sen. Stevens and I know we still have a few hurdles to clear, and we are committed to seeing this through to the end.”
Before ANWR can be opened to drilling, the House of Representatives must also pass the budget resolution. An additional budget reconciliation measure containing the ANWR language must then be approved by both the Senate and the House and signed by the President.
Editor’s note: A full ANWR update will appear in the March 26 issue of Petroleum News, as the March 16 Senate vote took place as Petroleum News’ March 19 issue went to press.