From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: House Democrats Demand No Arctic Refuge Drilling Be Included in President's Budget

February 26, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts and 121 House Democrats sent a letter today to the leaders of the House Budget Committee urging them to refrain from using the budget process to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Even though the plan was dropped from the energy bill last year due to strong opposition, the Bush Administration has again included a proposal to drill in the Artic Refuge in its fiscal year 2005 budget.

"It is preposterous for the President to think he can climb out of his budgetary hole by drilling in the Arctic Refuge," Pelosi said. "The President wants an enormous policy change with devastating environmental ramifications for a small amount of potential revenue. It is shameful, and House Democrats will fight it."

Congressman Markey said: "The President's budget represents wishful thinking rather than economic reality. Oil leasing is not allowed in the Arctic Refuge, and it is irresponsible of the President to count on $1.2 billion in revenues from the sale of leases in that pristine wilderness. The road to America's energy independence does not go through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

The House Democrats wrote in the letter to the Budget Committee leaders: "We strongly urge you to reject any requests to assume revenue from drilling activity in the Arctic Refuge or reconciliation instructions that could facilitate drilling there. Drilling is prohibited under current law and widely opposed throughout America. If the law ever changes, there will be adequate time to incorporate new assumptions regarding federal revenue from this source in subsequent budgets."

To protect the Artic Refuge, one of the most magnificent and rare unspoiled ecosystems in the world, Congress in 1980 prohibited oil and gas exploration or production on the coastal plain of the refuge. A Democratic amendment to the House energy bill blocking drilling in the Arctic Refuge narrowly failed last year, but the subsequent House-Senate conference report preserved the current protections for the Refuge. A majority of Americans have consistently opposed opening this area for oil exploration.




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