WASHINGTON - November 10 - Late last night, the House Rules Committee removed the controversial Arctic Refuge and offshore drilling provisions from the budget reconciliation package. The House is expected to vote on a now pared-down version of the bill today and then move to conference with the Senate, which last week passed a budget that includes Arctic drilling but omits coastal drilling.
The following is the statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive
"We are delighted that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore drilling provisions have been stripped from the House Reconciliation Bill. This move clearly demonstrates that attempts to pass Arctic Refuge and coastal drilling through the budget process are non-starters with the American people and the House.
"We thank those members who have voiced their concern about using the budget as a vehicle for these measures and look to them to stand by their convictions every step of the way. We are wary that this victory could be short-lived. Arctic drilling has long been a priority for the Bush administration, and some in Congress are still intent on manipulating the budget process to squeeze through their controversial agenda to auction off the Arctic Refuge and America's coasts to the oil and gas industry. The pro-drilling leadership has made it clear that they will still try will work to put Arctic and potentially coastal drilling back in the bill during Conference.
"But the recent actions by leadership, under intense pressure from moderate Republicans opposed to drilling, to strip these damaging provisions from the bill we hope will serve as a warning that any budget that would open the Arctic Refuge or America's coasts to destructive drilling faces a dead-end in the House.
"America deserves an honest dialogue about a real energy future, not bogus policy crammed through in the federal budget. We cannot continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past, nor can we drill our way to energy independence. The knee-jerk reaction to put more oil rigs up in hurricane-prone waters and industrialize the Arctic Refuge wouldn't save consumers money but would rob our children of their natural heritage.
"The removal of Arctic and coastal drilling by no means implies this bill is good for America. Still plaguing the bill are draconian cuts to programs for the most vulnerable in our country, provisions to allow mining and other companies to privatize public lands, serious funding cuts for important conservation programs, and a split in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."
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