[JURIST] The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee [official website] says it will approve legislation by mid-May to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) [official website, JURIST news archive] to oil drilling [pro-drilling backgrounder]. The statement comes in response to a budget bill [text] passed last week in the Senate which requires the committee to come up with legislation that will raise $6 billion over 10 years in leasing fees from oil companies permitted to drill in ANWR. Republicans are advancing their drilling plan through the budget bill because that cannot be filibustered under Senate rules. Senate Democrats did not have enough votes to amend the bill to stop the drilling proposal. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on its budget legislation.
In December, Senators rejected an ANWR drilling provision [JURIST report] added to the 2006 military spending bill, with leading Democrats saying the provisions violated Senate rules because they were not germane to the spending bill. Reuters has more.