House GOPers oppose legislative maneuver to open Arctic Refuge

Two dozen House Republicans have publicly criticized the GOP leadership’s plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling by attaching language to a filibuster-proof budget measure. In a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and other House leaders, the rebel GOPers — including three committee chairs — wrote that the budget process “is an inappropriate venue to be debating this important environmental issue.” While the House has repeatedly approved plans to drill in the Arctic Refuge in recent years, the threat of a filibuster in the Senate has always stymied such efforts. Drilling proponents believe that attaching refuge-drilling language to budget-reconciliation legislation that can’t be filibustered would give them their best chance yet. That move, expected in mid-September, is generating feverish activity among drilling opponents. “We’re organizing like we have never before,” said Athan Emanuel of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.