***Please go to www.akcf.org for more information and links to contact your
Senators and Representatives!***
Dear Friends of the Arctic,
First the good news. As we thought, by their own admission, drilling
proponents have not secured either a 49th or 50th vote in the Senate,
contrary to earlier assertions. Here is the latest:
March 13, 2003
GOP Progress On ANWR Questioned
A senior Republican senator Wednesday deflated assertions in a GOP e-mail
sent to Republican senators Tuesday that proponents of opening Alaska's
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas production had
secured one of two additional votes they need to move legislation in the
Senate to open ANWR.
And Vice President Dick Cheney's press secretary, Jennifer Millerwise,
Wednesday denied an assertion in the e-mail-which sources said originated
from the office of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and the Republican Senate
leadership-that Cheney "has been working madly" to secure the second of the
two needed votes.
"The vice president is not actively dealing with this issue," Millerwise
said. "He is not reaching out to members on this issue and has not reached
out to members on this issue.
"Having said that, the president and the vice president both strongly
support this provision as part of the president's domestic energy plan. The
administration will be working on this issue with appropriate members at
the appropriate time."
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), a senior member of the Senate Energy and
Natural Resources Committee, told The Energy Daily Wednesday that he had
"no knowledge" of any senators changing their position on the controversial
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), who chairs the energy panel, declined to
comment on the email, but quipped that Senate GOP leaders were "working
madly" to secure the two votes they need to win approval of opening the
Last spring, Democrats, joined by eight Republicans, used a filibuster to
block ANWR legislation on the Senate floor.
To sidestep another filibuster attempt this year, Republicans, now in
control of the Senate, want to attach the ANWR amendment to the fiscal 2004
budget reconciliation bill. Senate rules prohibit filibusters on budget
measures under debate on the floor.
The e-mail asserted that open-ANWR proponents had secured 49 votes in favor
of their position. If they can secure a 50th vote, Cheney, in his role as
Senate president, could cast the tie-breaking vote to open ANWR to oil
None of this means that we can rest on our laurels. There is still a lot of
time between now and the vote in the Senate on Tuesday. So, please, if you
have not contacted your Senators yet - do so and ask others to do so. The
message is straightforward: no Arctic drilling provision in the Budget
Resolution. This is the MOST CRITICAL vote for the protection of the Refuge
and must be won.
Now for the problematic news. Last night, the House Budget Committee passed
a budget resolution that included a mandated budget cut for House
Resources. The Budget Resolution does not have a provision in it explicitly
about the Arctic Refuge. This is good. However, as I noted yesterday,
drilling the Refuge is the most likely place that the Resources Committee
will look for these revenues. Congressman DeLauro introduced an amendment
last night that would have unambiguously prohibited the Resources Committee
from opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling to get the needed revenues. The
amendment failed in a close vote. So, we still have the problematic House
Budget Resolution provision. This is not so good.
The House Budget Resolution now goes to the floor of the House. Please
contact your Congressman and ask him or her to insert a clear prohibition
against Arctic drilling in the Budget Resolution.
This is complicated stuff - which is exactly their tactic. Let's not let
them get away with subverting the democratic process!
Thank you again. We truly appreciate your support. We have tremendous
challenges ahead - but our champions remain strong, and the American public
strongly supports protecting the Refuge.
Deborah L. Williams
Alaska Conservation Foundation