Statement by NRDC Legislative Director Karen Wayland

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 16, 2005) -- Today the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 49-51, defeated an amendment by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that would have removed a provision of the Senate budget bill that authorizes energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The following is a statement by Karen Wayland, legislative director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

"Drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge won't make a dent in gas prices at the pump or break our dependence on Middle East oil.

"This was really a vote for Big Oil, not for the solid majority of Americans who oppose turning America's last great wilderness into a vast, polluted oil field.

"President Bush and his Senate allies resorted to a sneaky budget maneuver to get their way. Now, Congress is one step closer to trading away an irreplaceable national treasure for a few drops of oil that we wouldn't see for a decade or more.

"If the oil industry can drill in the Arctic Refuge, then no place, no matter how pristine, will be safe.

"But there is still a lot of political tundra to cross before this fight is over. We'll keep battling every step of the way.

"Increasing America's energy security doesn't require selling off our natural heritage and letting oil companies despoil our last best places. Using better technology in our cars and trucks -- so they go farther on a gallon of gas -- would save more than 10 times the amount of oil in the refuge, and save consumers billions of dollars at the pump."