Citing security, President Bush urges Senate to pass energy bill

Oct. 11, 2001
President George W. Bush Thursday urged Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill this session. He did not mention the main roadblock to a Senate bill, disagreement over whether to allow leasing of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain in Alaska.

Maureen Lorenzetti
OGJ Online

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 11 -- President George W. Bush Thursday urged Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill this session that emphasizes US oil and gas production.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting this afternoon, Bush said, "There was a good energy bill passed out of the House of Representatives, and the reason it passed is because members of both parties understand an energy bill is not only good for jobs, it's important for our national security to have a good energy policy. And I urge the Senate to listen to the will of the senators and move a bill, move a bill that will help Americans find work and also make it easier for all of us around this table to protect the security of the country.

"The less dependent we are on foreign sources of crude oil, the more secure we are at home. We spent a lot of time talking about homeland security, and an integral piece of homeland security is energy independence. And I ask the Senate to respond to the call to get an energy bill moving."

Senate leaders Tuesday opted to bypass the committee process to bring energy policy legislation to the floor this fall -- but that legislation is fairly certain not to propose leasing of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain in Alaska (OGJ Online, Oct. 10, 2001).

Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) invoked a seldom-used Senate rule Tuesday to require Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to offer a proposed energy bill, without waiting for the energy committee to report a measure.

Senators from oil-producing states Thursday vowed to continue their fight for proposals to expand industry access to federal lands.

Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), who is retiring, fought unsuccessfully this week to attach an ANWR provision to an airline security bill. That effort failed early Thursday.

It was similar to a failed effort by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) last month to adopt the House-passed energy policy bill (which would permit ANWR leasing) to a defense spending measure.

Senate Republicans say they will continue to pursue the controversial ANWR leasing despite opposition from Democratic leaders, who want to keep ANWR from being attached to a must-pass bill.

In another issue of interest to industry, congressional leaders earlier this week removed language in a pending Interior appropriations bill that would have postponed controversial offshore Lease Sale 181 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

A House version postponed the sale, scheduled for this December. The Senate version would allow the Minerals Management Service to continue with the sale area the Clinton administration had proposed. A compromise measure opts for the Senate approach.

Observers said that development could provide the Bush administration the opportunity to abandon a compromise it reached last June with Florida politicians for a reduced Sale 181.

Also, congressmen retained a provision in the spending bill that would ban drilling in national monument areas.