WASHINGTON (AP) The 13 U.S. senators named to a conference committee on the national energy bill include six Democrats but none who have threatened a filibuster if the final bill includes a provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
That doesn't mean opposition has softened, according to a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
Using Senate and House versions passed earlier this year, the committee will seek to write a single energy bill that can go back to each house for final passage.
The Democratic leadership's picks include Sens. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Bob Graham of Florida, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. Those five serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over most of the bill's contents.
The sixth Democrat is Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax matters such as the proposed credit for sale of North Slope natural gas.
All voted against ANWR in the past the list doesn't include several prominent senators who have vowed to filibuster.
Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski said last month that he would interpret such a Democratic conference lineup as evidence of Majority Leader Tom Daschle's willingness to bend on ANWR. A Daschle spokesman told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that such an assertion was wishful thinking.
Republican members of the Energy committee on the conference include Sens. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Don Nickles of Oklahoma, Larry Craig of Idaho, Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Craig Thomas of Wyoming. Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Trent Lott of Louisiana will represent the Finance Committee.
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