"Senate Panel Blocks Directional Drilling in ANWR"

"A Senate committee on Tuesday rejected a proposal by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the panel's top Republican, to allow access to oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by drilling for it from outside the refuge.

The proposal failed in a 10-13 vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Environmentalists, as well as many senators, argue that the refuge should be protected from drilling. Murkowski argued that so-called "direction drilling" from outside the refuge boundary would not disturb wildlife or the environment.

The committee approved opening the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling, including an area rich with natural gas 10 miles off the Florida Panhandle. A 45-mile no-drilling buffer would be maintained off most of Florida's coast.

The provision was tacked onto a broader energy bill by a vote of 13-10. The committee was expected to advance the legislation later this week."

H. Josef Hebert reports for the Associated Press June 10, 2009.

Thursday, June 11, 2009