In a close 51-49 vote, the U.S. Senate rejected a Democratic effort March 16 to strike language from the 2006 budget currently before Congress that would allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The vote taken at 1:45 p.m. ET followed two minutes each of final remarks on the issue from Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who supports ANWR drilling and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who introduced the anti-ANWR amendment.
Citing oil prices jumping above $56 per barrel, Murkowski touted the importance of reducing America’s energy dependence on foreign oil. She said 1 million barrels a day of crude from ANWR is enough to replace all of the country’s imports from Saudi Arabia for 25 years and enough to meet the fuel needs of the state of Maryland for 100 years.
Cantwell countered that Bush administration estimates show ANWR oil will have no impact on current high oil prices and that ANWR oil in all likelihood will be exported to other countries.
The Senate is expected to vote on the overall budget resolution before Congress adjourns for the Easter recess March 19.
Editor’s note: See full story in March 20 issue of Petroleum News.