Millions of Americans were shocked to find out last Wednesday that their Senators had approved oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by a vote of 51-49. Knowing they didn’t have the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster, pro-drilling Senators tacked the drilling provision onto the filibuster-proof budget resolution proposal for 2006.
“They want to sneak this into the budget,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who sponsored legislation to separate ANWR drilling from the budget resolution.
Environmentalists, who consider ANWR an important haven for thousands of threatened species, are hoping that, like last year, the Senate will fail to pass a final budget based on its resolution, rendering the ANWR drilling provision irrelevant.
“We deeply regret that 51 Senators voted to pursue special interests instead of energy solutions,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. “This is only the opening gambit in the chess game, and a strong, bipartisan coalition of Senators—backed by the will of the American people—will press on with a vigilant campaign to keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where it belongs: wild and free and out of the budget.”