November 03, 2005

Senate Votes to Halt Exports of Oil Drilled in Artic Refuge

Wyden, Talent amendment seeks to help preventmarket manipulation, keep Refuge oil for U.S. energy consumers

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Senate today approved a measure by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.) to ban exports of any oil produced in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A Wyden-Talent amendment was added by a vote of 83 to 16 to budget reconciliation legislation being considered this week. The budget reconciliation measure approved earlier this year assumed revenue from Refuge drilling and directed the Secretary of Interior to receive fair market value for Refuge oil; without this amendment, it is a virtual certainty that Arctic oil will be sold outside the United States to meet Federal budget requirements for its value, instead of being sold and used here at home. "I oppose drilling for oil in the Refuge, but if it's drilled at all, it should be used for its stated purpose -- on the U.S. market for U.S. energy consumers," said Wyden. "It's a fraud on the American public to drill in a wildlife refuge and then sell the oil abroad to the highest bidder, and today's vote is the minimum the Senate should do." "Our domestic resources should be sold domestically," said Talent. "Our amendment would make certain that the oil we get from the Arctic is sold in the United States. This is not something the oil companies are going to like, but it's too important to our energy security. It's a very important hedge against foreign boycotts or threats or oil blackmail that somebody may want to use against the United States." In January 2001, The Oregonian of Portland reported that BP-Amoco systematically increased oil prices for consumers along the West Coast while exporting Alaskan crude oil to Asia, calling it a "no-brainer" to manipulate the market in that way. The Wyden-Talent amendment seeks to protect American energy consumers from continued market manipulation and continued dependence on foreign sources of energy. The U.S. House of Representatives approved an identical provision earlier this year. Wyden and Talent are both members of the Senate Energy Committee.