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House votes for oil drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

[JURIST] The US House of Presentatives voted late Wednesday to allow oil drilling in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) [official website] as part of new and wide-ranging energy legislation [text]. The bill's sponsors claim the refuge will produce as much as a million barrels of oil a day which will help the country's growing dependence on foreign oil. Opponents argue drilling will do little to promote conservation or ease gasoline prices because the oil would not be available for a decade. The bill also calls for $8.1 billion in tax breaks to promote coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas energy industries over 10 years. Senate Democrats [official website] have already pledged to filibuster any energy bill that would open the refuge to oil drilling. House Democrats attempted to take the amendment to strip the Alaska refuge provision from the energy bill but failed by a vote of 231-200. Lawmakers were also defeated in their attempt to require automakers to raise fuel economy to 33 miles per gallon over the next decade by a vote of 254-177. President Bush has urged Congress to give him an energy bill [White House press release] to sign by the summer. He claims that refuge-drilling will have no impact on wildlife and would produce nearly half the oil the US now gets from Venezuela. AP has more.

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