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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

House takes up energy bill today

The full U.S. House of Representatives today begins debate on the energy bill, officially dubbed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, H.R. 6. The bill includes provisions to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, previously detailed here.

Democrats are expected to try to amend the bill in ways previously rejected by Republicans, including removing the ANWR drilling provisions and requiring automakers to improve fleet-average miles-per-gallon in the cars they produce. Another controversial provision is a Republican proposal to exempt oil companies from liability for cleaning up soil and water contamination from the gasoline additive MTBE, saving them billions of dollars.

The bill is filled with a long list of other bad policies. But even if the House does adopt it, which is likely, it shouldn't be viewed as a death blow for ANWR. The Senate version of the bill, to be considered in May, is not likely to include ANWR drilling because it would be subject to filibuster by Democrats. That's why the Senate voted March 16 to include ANWR drilling in the budget bill instead, where it is exempt from filibuster.

A vote by the full House on the energy bill is expected Thursday.

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