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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bodman: ANWR drilling to be stripped from energy bill

Not really a big news flash, but Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told the Rocky Mountain News yesterday that oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is certain to be stripped from any energy bill eventually presented to President Bush. The controversial measure would almost certainly doom the bill.

The drilling measure was widely expected to be missing from the Senate's version of the energy bill. But in a surprise, the bill's author, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) included it in the bill after all. In April the House passed its version of the bill, which also includes ANWR drilling.

"I think (drilling in the ANWR) will be removed from the energy bill and be dealt with separately," Bodman told the News, which treated this as a major news event. "The big problem is getting the bill passed."

None of this really matters, of course, because the plot all along has been to bury the ANWR drilling provision in the massive federal budget bill, where it will be immune to fillibuster. A first version of the budget has already passed Congress that could pave the way for drilling. But a final version still has to pass, and that's not likely to happen until late fall, reports KTUU-TV in Anchorage (which has been following this more closely than most of the print media).

“The committees are expected to report legislation in September with final legislation reaching the president's desk in October,” budget analyst Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation told KTUU.

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