ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Sen. Frank Murkowski has made it official.
Drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will not be included in a national energy bill, even if Congress can agree on a bill when lawmakers reconvene sometime after the Nov. 5 election, the senator said Friday during a news conference at his Anchorage office.
Murkowski, R-Alaska, returned to Alaska after leaving the gubernatorial campaign trail briefly to work with fellow Republicans in Washington on a national energy bill.
Murkowski said Democrats who oppose drilling in the refuge won't budge. And he said Sen. Jeff Binghaman, D-N.M., who is leader of the Senate negotiators, has made it clear he won't send any version of the bill back to the House if it contains drilling in ANWR.
''They will not accept any compromise on ANWR,'' Murkowski said of the Democrats.
Murkowski said construction of a North Slope natural gas pipeline remains in the energy bill but there are a few sticking points, including price supports for Alaska natural gas.
One of the most contentious issues is over how much utilities should be required to rely on renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar.
More than a year ago, the House version of the energy bill included drilling for oil in ANWR. But the Senate rejected that idea, tilting their version more toward renewable energy sources and the wider use of corn-based ethanol.
Murkowski declined to guess on whether lawmakers will be able to decide on an energy bill when they return to Washington. The legislation has taken almost the entire two years of the current Congress.
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