Breaking News! On Friday, November 14th, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) - leaders of the House-Senate Conference Committee tasked with crafting a final energy bill for 2003 - held an impromptu press conference to announce the release of the Conference Committee's final energy bill - AND PUBLICLY STATED THAT THE BILL NO LONGER INCLUDES THE U.S. HOUSE PASSED PROVISIONS TO OPEN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE TO OIL AND GAS DRILLING! At press time, the 1,700+ page bill was not available. As you can imagine, we'd like to see it ourselves before we draw any final conclusions - but this announcement alone is a very good sign!
Even if it is indeed true, and Arctic drilling provisions have been removed, keep in mind the overall energy bill still includes an array of dangerous provisions and massive tax breaks for polluters. Again, we will review the final language, but the bill is expected to grant oil and gas companies exemptions from portions of the Clean Water Act, delay the deadline for large cities to come into compliance with the Clean Air Act, and neglect obvious energy-saving issues that should be addressed! Even if they have removed the Arctic drilling provisions, by no means should this bill pass this year - or any year!
Stay tuned! We'll follow-up with you next week!