ANWR Drilling Rejected by US Senate

In a narrow vote on Wednesday the U.S. Senate decided to keep the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in place. The Senate vote struck language attached to the 2004 budget resolution that would have opened the Alaska refuge to drilling and collected more than $2 billion in leasing fees from oil companies. Republicans added the provision to the budget resolution because it needs only 50 votes to pass, unlike most controversial bills which require 60 votes to end debate before a floor vote.

Drilling in ANWR was central to the Bush administration's proposed energy policy. Bush had hoped to use the estimated 16 billion barrels of crude in the arctic refuge to alleviate America's dependence on foreign imports.

Environmentalists and many Democrats argue the wilderness should be left untouched in favor of stricter oil conservation measures. The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives has previously voted by a wide margin in favor of opening the refuge to drilling.