By the OGJ Online Staff
WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 3 -- The US Senate Tuesday approved the fiscal 2002 defense authorization bill for the federal government after agreeing to defer a debate over energy legislation.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) had sought to attach sweeping energy legislation previously passed by the House to the defense bill. The industry-supported House bill includes several proposals opposed by leaders in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The most controversial piece of that House bill would allow the government to lease a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Other controversial proposals include expanding tax incentives for domestic oil production, and limiting the Interior Department's authority to manage oil royalties from federal lands.
Inhofe and other industry supporters say they want a definite timeframe in which the Senate will consider an energy bill. Senate Democrats won't give specifics.
President George W. Bush, through Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham and Interior Sec. Gale Norton, has urged Congress to pass energy legislation this year that would implement proposals in the White House's May energy blueprint. About 25% of those recommendations require congressional action and the rest can be done administratively.
It remains uncertain whether there is enough political momentum to pass an energy bill before lawmakers adjourn late this month.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Committee held one energy bill markup before the August recess, addressing noncontroversial increases in federal energy research and development. More markups may come later this month.