In a victory for the environment, the US Senate voted 52-48 yesterday to reject drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The vote was on an amendment sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) striking a provision to the 2004 budget resolution that would open ANWR to oil drilling. The provision, attached to the budget resolution by Senate Republicans, included more than $2 billion in federal revenue that would have been used for drilling in ANWR, according to Reuters. The vote was largely along party lines, but eight Republicans and five Democrats broke rank.
Senator Boxer, a strong feminist and supporter of environmental protections, led the effort to remove the ANWR drilling revenues from the budget resolution. Boxer said in a press statement that “I am very pleased that we were able to pass this amendment and prevent the Administration’s push to open the pristine wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge… Americans must continue to be vigilant because proponents of drilling this Wildlife Refuge have vowed they will not give up.” The rejection of the ANWR drilling amendment is a decisive victory for Democrats as well as environmentalists, since the opening of ANWR to drilling has been one of the top priorities in the Bush Administrations Energy Plan. However, drilling could still be approved this year, the Times reports.