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House Panel Adopts ANWR-Absent Budget Resolution

The House Budget Committee last Wednesday adopted a $2.8 trillion budget resolution for fiscal 2007 that excludes language to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and natural gas drilling.

House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) earlier had vowed to keep the controversial ANWR issue out of his chairman's mark of the budget blueprint, which was approved by the panel by 22 to 17. The House committee, by omitting budget instructions on ANWR, bowed to the wishes of moderate Republicans, who are strongly opposed to any drilling in ANWR.

The action by the House committee follows the Senate's approval last month of a budget resolution instructing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to write reconciliation language to reduce federal budget authority and outlays by $3 billion between fiscal years 2007 and 2011, a move that paves the way for a bill on the Senate side to open the coastal plain of ANWR to exploration and production (see NGI, March 20).

The full House is expected to consider its budget resolution the week of April 3, according to Congressional Quarterly's Green Sheets. A vote by the full House to keep ANWR out of its budget resolution would not completely kill the issue this year. ANWR still could be raised during the House-Senate conference negotiations on the budget package later this year, given that the Senate approved arctic refuge drilling in its budget resolution.

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