Republicans are after the Arctic Refuge again

Undeterred by consistent public opposition and bipartisan objections, a number of Republicans are once again attempting to get oil drillers into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Senate Budget Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) slipped ANWR into a budget resolution yesterday, which unlike standard legislation cannot be defeated by a filibuster. Overcoming a filibuster requires 60 votes, but the budget resolution requires only a 51-vote majority. Senate Energy Committee Chair Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) called this the “old-fashioned way,” but Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) countered that it is in fact a “backdoor way,” a perversion of the budget process. On the House side, Republicans left ANWR out of the budget but vowed to include it in energy legislation next month. And at the head of the pack was President Bush, who touted plans to open ANWR to drilling in a major speech yesterday. In a turn of phrase creative even by his standards, he said ANWR would produce “the same amount of new oil we could get from 41 states combined.” Many of those states, of course, have no known oil reserves.