Energy Bill Held Up in Senate

BACKGROUND: Republicans continue to push for a national energy plan while Democrats want to delay consideration of a plan in the U.S. Senate until February 2002, according to Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK). Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) wants to add an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would include opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration. Senator Murkowski warns he might “hold up normal legislative business” if the Senate Democratic leadership doesn’t bring an energy bill to the Senate floor for consideration before February 2002.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Each day we continue to depend heavily on oil imported from the Middle East, we are helping fund terrorists like bin Laden who own oil interests there.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Foreign terrorists are financed by oil money. We need to expand our domestic energy supply for national security reasons. In addition, opening domestic oil fields to exploration would provide badly needed jobs for thousands of American workers. With today’s technology we can develop our own sources of energy and still protect the environment.

DISCUSSION: Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX), House Republican Whip, has said, “We can’t wait another day. The strength of our security, the health of our economy, rests on expanding our domestic energy supply immediately.” Labor unions that helped House Republicans pass an energy bill that included opening 2,000 acres of the 19.5 million acres refuge to exploration also are pushing the Senate to consider a bill. The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Terry Turner of the Seafarers International Union as saying that opening ANWR “could mean 30 years of solid, good-paying jobs for American families. The Senate needs to act. This is a jobs bill.”

The world is not running out of “known resources” as predicted by environmentalists. On the contrary, the U.S. Geological Surveys show that “since 1981, each of the last four of these assessments has shown a slight increase in the combined volume of identified reserves and undiscovered resources.” Bjorn Lomborg confirms this in his new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, by explaining that as demand for oil or coal rises, exploration finds new fields. Technology enables industry to extract more oil from known fields, helps find new fields and enables extraction from fields that were previously too difficult to harvest.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) claims higher efficiency standards for cars would save as much fuel as we’d derive from developing oil fields in ANWR. However, she doesn’t take into account data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that shows that an estimated 302 additional people die in auto accidents for every 100 pounds cut from the average car weight to attain higher fuel efficiency (see also National Policy Analysis #256: “Raising Sports Utility Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standards Would Kill Americans” by David Ridenour at ).


by Gretchen Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or [email protected]
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