Committee to take up ANWR bill

Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The U.S. House Resources Committee will consider Alaska Rep. Don Young's bill to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

A hearing was set for Wednesday.

The committee's new chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., issued a brief statement in advance of Wednesday's hearing, saying protecting ''our environment and our energy security'' are compatible goals.

Young has said he expects the Republican-led House will approve ANWR drilling again this year.

In August 2001, when Young was Resources chairman, the House passed a national energy bill with his ANWR drilling legislation attached. The Senate did not include drilling language in its version of the energy bill, which it passed while under Democratic control in 2002. Negotiations over a compromise version collapsed.

Because several senators have threatened to filibuster any ANWR-opening legislation, some drilling supporters are hoping to secure victory through a two-step budget process not subject to that obstacle.

Young, now Transportation committee chairman, said last month that he wouldn't discuss his ANWR strategy. He suggested, though, that while everyone is watching one hand, he'll strike with the other.

Invited to speak at Wednesday's hearing are Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton; former Energy Secretary James Schlesinger; Gov. Frank Murkowski's rural affairs assistant, Tara Sweeney; National Wildlife Federation vice president and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Jamie Clark; former Alaska Division of Oil and Gas director Ken Boyd; and Trustees for Alaska attorney Peter Van Tuyn.

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