Skip to comments.White House Can't Win ANWR Debate, Says Environmentalist
Posted on 03/02/2002 5:49:50 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
As the U.S. Senate prepared Wednesday to debate the nation's energy needs, environmental groups blasted the Republican plan to drill for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and said the White House lacked enough votes to win Senate passage of the measure.
The ANWR drilling provision appeared headed for passage in the Senate Energy Committee earlier this month until Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) yanked the entire bill from the committee and moved it directly to the Senate floor.
At the time, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Energy panel, said he had "never seen an instance where jurisdiction was pulled from a committee like this."
Daschle's move means the ANWR provision will now have to be introduced on the Senate floor as an amendment to the Democratic version of the energy bill and collect 60 votes.
Even the Bush administration's recent attempt to compromise and confine the oil drilling to only a third of the Arctic refuge's 1.5 million acres will fail, according to Jaime Rappaport Clark, senior vice president for conservation programs at the National Wildlife Federation
"It is clear that the White House and drilling proponents do not have the votes to open up the coastal plains, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, to oil drilling," Clark said.
"They don't have the votes because the public and a number of open-minded senators recognize the irreparable harm that drilling would do to the wilderness character, to the wildlife value and to the environment of one of the most pristine places left on earth," Clark said.
She added that the region is "too wild to waste" and accused the Bush administration of taking last-minute steps "to exploit and wreck the refuge."
"They think they can pull it off by selling this drilling ploy as a balanced proposal. Let me tell you, from what I know, it is about as balanced as Enron's books," Clark said.
Among those supporting the ANWR proposal are officials of the Teamsters' Union, who argue that not only would oil drilling in the refuge reduce America's reliance on foreign oil but it would also produce thousands of high-paying jobs.
The Senate is scheduled to hear debate for several weeks before voting on a final version of the Kerry-Hollings bill, named for Democratic Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Ernest Hollings of South Carolina. Republicans will try to install their provisions as amendments to the Kerry-Hollings bill.
If they tell themselves this enough times.....
Well, maybe the White House lacks the votes, but I bet Jimmy Hoffa has them.
How was it that ANWR was made unavailable to drilling? If by EO, Bush could rescind/countermand it. If not, issuing a new one would be a huge blunder on his part. I didn't like it when Clinton issued them, and I feel the same way here.
The idea that environmental extremism entitles tyrants rather than we-the-people to control valuable subterrainian minerals should cut no ice whatsoever.
A total of 60 votes is needed to bring a vote to the floor and pass a bill.
How is this possible?
So what's the beef?
The dearth of debate limitations in Senate rules creates the possibility of filibusters. Individual Senators or minority groups of Senators who adamantly oppose a bill or amendment may speak against it at great length, in the hope of changing their colleagues' minds, winning support for amendments that meet their objectives, or convincing the Senate to withdraw the bill or amendment from further consideration on the floor. Opposing Senators also can delay final floor action by offering numerous amendments and motions, insisting that amendments be read in full, demanding roll call votes on amendments and motions, and a using a variety of other devices.
The only formal procedure that Senate rules provide for breaking filibusters is to invoke cloture under the provisions of paragraph 2 of Rule XXII. However, cloture cannot be voted until two days after it is proposed, and a simple majority of the Senate is insufficient to invoke cloture. Cloture requires the support of three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn, or a minimum of 60 votes (unless the matter being considered changes the standing rules, in which case cloture requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senators present and voting). For this reason alone, cloture can be difficult to invoke and almost always requires some bipartisan support. In addition, some Senators are reluctant to vote for cloture, even if they support the legislation being jeopardized by the filibuster, precisely because the right of extended debate is such an integral element of Senate history and procedure.
Even if the Senate does invoke cloture on a bill (or anything else), the result is not an immediate vote on passing the bill. The cloture rule permits a maximum of thirty additional hours for considering the bill, during which each Senator may speak for one hour. The time consumed by rollcall votes and quorum calls is deducted from the thirty hour total; as a result, each Senator does not have an opportunity to speak for a full hour, although he or she is guaranteed at least ten minutes for debate. Thus, cloture does not stop debate immediately; it only ensures that debate cannot continue indefinitely. And even the thirty hours allowed under cloture is quite a long time for the Senate to devote to any one bill, especially since Senators may not be willing to invoke cloture until the bill already has been debated at considerable length.
Better question: What do you call caribou meat?