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Monday, May 2, 2011

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Votes and Legislative Actions, 95th Congress through 110th Congress

M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Beth A. Roberts
Information Research Specialist

Current law forbids energy leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska. For several decades, a major energy debate has been whether to approve energy development in ANWR, and if so, under what conditions; or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area’s biological resources. ANWR is rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Its development has been debated for over 40 years, but increases in gasoline and natural gas prices, terrorist attacks, infrastructure damage from hurricanes, and turmoil in the Middle East have intensified the debate.

This report provides a summary of legislative attempts to address issues of energy development and preservation in the Refuge from the 95
th Congress through the 111th Congress, with emphasis on the 108th through 111th Congresses. This history provides a background for issues that may be raised in the current Congress. The focus of this report is past legislative actions that reached the floor of the House or Senate. The substance of the issue is covered in other CRS reports. Below are summarized actions in the 109th to 111th Congresses.

The ANWR debate took two basic legislative routes in the 109
th Congress: (1) budget resolutions and reconciliation bills, which cannot be filibustered; and (2) other bills (an omnibus energy bill; Defense appropriations; and a bill in the second session to open the Refuge to development), which are subject to filibusters. In none of these measures did Congress reach agreement to allow development.

In the first session of the 110
th Congress, the House rejected a motion to recommit H.R. 3221 to the Energy and Commerce Committee with instructions that it be reported back with language authorizing ANWR development. In the second session, the House rejected a motion to adjust budget levels to assume increased revenues from opening ANWR to development. Also in the second session, the Senate rejected an amendment to another bill to open ANWR to energy development.

During the 111
th Congress, there were no floor votes in the House or the Senate on the Refuge.

Date of Report: April 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: RL32838
Price: $29.95

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