U.S. House conferees voted 10-7 today to accept a modified House offer to the Senate on oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that would open the 1002 area to drilling and increase the wilderness area in the refuge by 10.2 million acres. The size of the 1002 area would not be affected.
The proposal sets aside a total of 17.4 million acres of wilderness in the refuge, the largest single designation of wilderness ever made in one geographic place, according to Rep W.J. ‘Billy’ Tauzin, chairman of the conference committee.
The offer will now be sent to the Senate side of the conference committee for consideration. The Senate members, largely Democrats, could pass the House offer, vote it down, ignore it, or send an amended version back to the House side of the conference committee for reconsideration.
If the conference committee resolves the ANWR issue and other matters facing it, such as incentives for an Alaska gas pipeline, ethanol use and climate change issues, the energy bill will move to the main body of the House and Senate for a vote.
An Arctic Power representative in Washington, D.C. told PNA this afternoon that chances of opening ANWR through this energy bill are slim because Senate leadership remains opposed to drilling.