- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Supporters of oil drilling in Alaska made a last pitch yesterday for Senate passage, citing Saddam Hussein's 30-day oil embargo to influence opposing lawmakers.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has threatened to move the vote forward for defeat as early as today if Republicans can't get the support they require for passage this week.
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana supports drilling and is appealing to her fellow Democrats to support increasing oil production through drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
"If the events of today don't sway people, they will never be swayed. If this does not move the Democratic leadership, then nothing will," Mrs. Landrieu said.
In addition to Iraq's decision to impose an oil embargo, Venezuela is undergoing increased instability, and its energy union declared a strike yesterday against the government.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton made separate appearances on Capitol Hill, urging the Senate to pass the national energy policy and a provision to allow drilling.
President Bush announced the policy almost one year ago, and it passed the House in August. Since House passage, the United States has purchased 253 million barrels of oil from Iraq.
"I think we've seen rather obviously in recent weeks as the price of gasoline has climbed again that we need to finish the job we started a year ago," Mr. Abraham said.
"The United States needs strong and independent sources for energy. We need a wise energy policy," Mrs. Norton said.
Mr. Daschle said Democrats are "troubled" that Republicans have declined to vote on the ANWR amendment to the energy bill
"There are many in my caucus who would like to just bring it up, and they may do that, in order for us to demonstrate that the votes aren't there so we can move on to complete the other 249 amendments," Mr. Daschle said.
Typically, a majority of 51 votes is necessary, but Democrats have threatened to filibuster ANWR, which would require 60 votes to stop.
The ANWR amendment could come up as early as today for a vote, Mr. Daschle said, "so that it can be disposed of."
"I would hate to spend another week or two on the energy bill. We've already spent 18 days on this bill," Mr. Daschle said.
Mr. Daschle said he did not expect the events yesterday to change any minds in favor of drilling in ANWR.
Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and assistant minority leader, said there is a need to move the legislation but it's proceeding slowly because the committee of jurisdiction was bypassed and the legislation is being written as it is being debated on the Senate floor.
"It's important when you have a country like Iraq, who threatens embargoes, sanctions, curtailments trying to influence our policies, that we not allow Saddam Hussein to set energy prices in the United States," Mr. Nickles said.
Mr. Abraham dismissed published reports suggesting that Republicans are preparing to pull the plug on ANWR as "off the mark" but declined to say whether the White House would veto an energy bill without the provision.
"We want to see the Senate take action. That's our position," Mr. Abraham said.
"I guess the question is more whether or not Senator Daschle's going to pull down the bill. I don't know if he's going to do that or not, but the administration wants an energy bill; that's our goal," Mr. Abraham said.

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