The US Senate on Thursday voted 52–47 to approve a budget reconciliation package which includes a provision allowing oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The Senate defeated by a 51–48 vote an amendment offered by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to strike the ANWR title from the Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005.
Using backdoor tactics to destroy America’s last great wild frontier will not solve our nation’s energy problems and will do nothing to lower skyrocketing gas prices.
This is about priorities. This is about harnessing American ingenuity to confront our dangerous oil addiction. We need to give our children a future less dependent on fossil fuel. According to the Energy Department’s latest analysis, even if oil companies drill in the wildlife refuge and hit peak production, it will only lower gas prices by a penny per gallon.—Sen. Maria Cantwell
Drilling supporters said developing the refuge’s 10.4 billion barrels of crude would raise $2.4 billion in leasing fees for the government, reduce reliance on foreign oil imports and create thousands of American jobs.
According to a report prepared by the DOE’s Energy Information Administration on the prospects for ANWR, it will take approximately 10 years to bring the first ANWR field on-line (comparable to other Arctic drilling), and ANWR production will peak, in the mean case scenario, in 2024 at 870,000 barrels of oil per day. (Earlier post.)
Today the US imports some 10.5 million barrels per day. Using the EIA’s projections of ongoing declines in domestic oil production and increases in oil consumption (mostly from the transportation sector) that will see imports double to some 20 million bpd, by 2025 ANWR would reduce US reliance on imported oil by four percentage points: from 70% to 66%.
ANWR, according to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, is “the nation’s single greatest prospect for future oil.” Senator Pete Domenici, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said “At last. We should have done this 10 years ago but thank goodness we are doing it now.”
This is a victory for American taxpayers because developing our oil reserves in the Arctic raises $2.5 billion for the federal treasury over the next five years. In addition, there will be billions of dollars more from royalties paid into the treasury by oil companies once the oil has been developed. Any time you can raise receipts without resorting to taxes, it’s a win for the taxpayer.
This vote today sends a signal to OPEC and the rest of the world that America is serious about meeting more of its own energy needs. America will not let our consumers or our economy be held hostage to run-away global oil prices.—Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM),
Lawmakers also voted, 83 to 16, to ban ANWR oil from being exported to China and other countries.
The Senate budget bill will need to be reconciled with a House version.