Coastal Areas and Arctic Saved from Drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 10, 2005) -- In a landmark political shift, a bipartisan coalition of rank-and-file members of the House of Representatives forced Republican leadership to strip controversial plans to open America's coastal waters and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to industrial-scale oil and gas drilling from a budget reconciliation bill expected to come up for final passage today. The surprise move reveals a growing sentiment in both parties that business-as-usual simple won't do when it comes to the nation's energy policy.

At the same time major concerns remain about the budget reconciliation bill, which still contains deep cuts to successful energy efficiency and renewable energy programs for farmers and ranchers as well as vast, below-cost giveaways of publicly owned land, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The Senate last week passed its version of the budget legislation that included allowing oil and gas drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The House and Senate would have to work out the difference between their competing measures before the legislation could be sent to the President for his signature.

Following is a statement by NRDC Legislative Director Karen Wayland:

"Washington is finally starting to understand that true energy security means changing the way we do business with big energy companies. They're waking up because their constituents are demanding it. Voters in both parties know that business-as-usual means high costs, compromised security, and needless damage to our health and environment.

"Taking coastal and Arctic drilling out of this bill is a huge victory for the American public.

"But let's not forget the laundry list of giveaways still hidden in this package. If it passes, the House and Senate conferees will have to take a tough stand to weed out a bevy of bad ideas."