Statement by Heather Taylor, NRDC Deputy Legislative Director

WASHINGTON (March 9, 2006) -- Unable to pass a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling through normal legislative channels, congressional leaders today subverted the federal budget process to get their way, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Senate Budget Committee led by Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) today approved a 'stand-alone' budget measure designed exclusively to allow drilling the Arctic Refuge. The vote was 11-10 along party lines with one Republican absent. A Senate budget resolution is the only bill cannot be filibustered.

This comes on the heels of an oil spill discovered over the weekend from a pipeline on Alaska's North Slope. Early estimates in news reports indicate that this may bill the largest spill to ever hit the region. (See "Alaska Oil Spill Could Be Area's Largest." )

Following is a statement by Heather Taylor, NRDC's deputy legislative director:

"The people who want to see oil companies drilling in the Arctic have failed time and again to make it happen through legitimate legislative means. Every time the answer has been no. Now they're breaking the rules so they can bypass the lawful democratic process altogether. We hope the full Senate has higher regard for its own integrity, and that members will put a stop to this lowdown ploy.

"The Arctic drilling measure is narrow, special interest politics at its very worst. It is not a cure for our energy addiction, or for our fiscal one. It's just one more quick fix for an oil junkie."