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Video of Sen. Murray's Remarks

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As the Senate continued debate on the FY 2004 budget, Sen. Patty Murray spoke on the Senate floor this morning to prevent drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The amendment she spoke in favor of would strip language currently in the Republican budget that assumes increased spending that would result from opening the Alaskan National Wildlife to exploration and drilling.

Following are Sen. Murray's remarks:

"Mr. President, I rise to support this amendment. It will stop a back-door attempt to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Yesterday, I spoke at length here on the Senate floor about why the budget proposal before the Senate is reckless. It ignores the costs of war -- and its aftermath -- in Iraq, and it under-funds critical priorities here at home like homeland security, education and transportation.

But there is something else buried in this massive budget that needs to be removed. The budget now before the Senate actually assumes increased spending that will result from opening ANWR up to exploration and drilling -- even though the Senate clearly rejected that last year.

Exploration and drilling in ANWR is a controversial issue, and it should be fully debated. The appropriate place for that debate is in the Energy Bill, which the Senate will consider in the coming months.

Last year, the Senate soundly rejected efforts to open ANWR to exploration and drilling. This year, proponents of drilling are using a backdoor approach to try to get support for ANWR in the budget resolution. This amendment would strike that language and leave the ANWR debate where it belongs – as part of the upcoming debate on the Energy Bill.

Mr. President, the budget reconciliation process was enacted to help us reduce our deficit, and that's even more important now that our country is back in red ink. But instead of supporting a process that helps reduce our deficit, proponents of drilling are using it to pass something the Senate rejected last year.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an important and unique national treasure. It's the only conservation system in North America that protects a complete spectrum of arctic ecosystems, and it's the most biologically productive part of the Arctic Refuge.

Energy exploration in ANWR would have a significant impact on this unique ecosystem. The proponents of this measure argue that over the years, energy exploration has become more environmentally friendly. While that may be true, there are still significant environmental impacts for this sensitive region.

The oil reserves in ANWR – in fact the oil reserves in the entire United States -- are not enough to significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. President, there are four ways to really reduce our need for foreign oil.

We can increase the fuel economy of our automobiles and light trucks. Higher fuel economy standards will reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, save consumers significant fuel costs, and reduce our national trade deficit.

Secondly, we can reduce our need for foreign oil by expanding the use of domestically-produced renewable and alternative fuels. That will reduce emissions of toxic pollutants, create jobs in the U.S., and reduce our trade deficit.

We can invest in emerging technologies like fuel cells and solar electric cars.

And we can also increase the energy efficiency of our office buildings and homes.

These four strategies will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect one of our nation's most precious treasures.

Mr. President, let's remember that the amount of oil in ANWR is too small to significantly improve our current energy problems.

The oil exploration in ANWR will not actually start producing oil for as many as 10 years. Exploring and drilling for oil and gas at ANWR is not forward thinking. It's a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. The Senate should reject this back-door attempt to use the budget process to embrace drilling in ANWR when many in the Senate oppose it.

We should debate drilling in ANWR when the Senate energy bill comes up. But we should not make a decision on drilling this in the budget resolution. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment."