White House Takes Aim at ANWR

photo by: USFWS

The White House budget proposal for 2006 is counting on income from opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling, much to the dismay of many environmentalists. The White House is projecting that the federal government will take in up to $1.2 billion over the next two years from oil companies paying for the right to lease oil drilling permits within ANWR.

Such revenues, while part of each previous Bush administration budget proposal, were nothing more than a pipe dream when Democrats held enough sway in Congress to stave off efforts to open ANWR to drilling in the first place. But this year, Senate Republicans may have enough votes to override any such challenges.

“The administration’s debilitating funding cuts for the environment are compounded by its disingenuous use of the budget process to throw open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling in return for what amounts to an illusory conservation bribe,” says Rob Perks of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The NRDC argues, “Oil from the Arctic Refuge won’t mean lower gas or heating-oil prices, and doesn’t promise any relief from dependence on foreign oil. Increased energy efficiency is cheaper, faster and cleaner than drilling the Arctic.” ANWR’s coastal plain is critical—and exceedingly fragile—habitat for caribou, polar bears, muskoxen and more than 135 species of birds.

Sources: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7560498, http://www.adn.com/front/story/6134875p-6016557c.html, and http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressreleases/050209a.asp