Senate defeats ANWR drilling measure

| 3/20/2003

The Senate on March 19 rejected oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge, handing the Bush administration a defeat on one of its top energy priorities, The Associated Press reported.

Development of oil beneath the 100-mile coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska has been a key part of President Bush's energy plan. However, environmentalists oppose drilling and its effect on wildlife.

Despite intense lobbying by pro-drilling senators, Democrats mustered the support needed to remove a refuge drilling provision from a budget resolution expected to be approved later this week.

The vote on an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, to strip away the provision passed 52-48.

"This is a national treasure," said Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, one of the Democrats who successfully blocked attempts to lift the drilling ban last year. "God only gave us 3 percent of the world's oil. The Middle East has about 65 percent ... and a 2 percent difference for the destruction of the wilderness does not solve America's problem."

The United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day.