The House Resources Committee is expected to vote this week to revive the White House energy bill calling for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bill would also call for expediting government approval of drilling permits for areas already open to energy exploration and promoting development of geothermal energy on public lands. The full House passed a version of the bill last session, but backers could not garner enough votes in the Senate to make it law.
Other House committees—including Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Science—must approve the new version of the bill based on their respective jurisdictions before it can be presented for a full House vote, probably in mid-February. And with strong majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans hope to finally pass the contentious bill, which first surfaced in 2001.
Meanwhile, a handful of Senate democrats led by John Kerry remain staunchly opposed to oil drilling in ANWR. In a recent Outside Magazine op-ed piece, Kerry writes: “George Bush and his allies plan to make ANWR drilling a top priority this year, and I plan to be on the front lines of the battle.” But without enough Democrats to filibuster, Kerry and friends will have their work cut out for them indeed.