“Senate energy leaders said they expect floor debate to conclude and their 2005 energy bill to come to a vote by the end of the week,” reports Oil & Gas Journal:

“The Bush White House is hell-bent on drilling off Florida,” [Sen. Ben] Nelson [D-FL] said … “Why take an inventory in an area where they’ve guaranteed there won’t be any drilling? All it is is the next step toward drilling off the coast of Florida.” [….]

Democrats entered the floor debate planning to offer amendments that would establish ambitious goals to reduce US dependence on foreign oil; boost production of clean, renewable energy; and address global warming.

Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) was first, with her proposal to set a goal to reduce oil imports by 40%, or more than 7.6 million b/d, from the 19.1 million b/d of imports that the US Energy Information Administration forecasts for 2025 in its latest Annual Energy Outlook. … It failed by 53 to 47 votes. …

Minutes ago, this bulletin arrived in my e-mail from Sen. Cantwell’s office:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the Senate rejected an amendment that would have prevented a survey of oil and gas resources off the coast of Washington state. Cantwell co-sponsored the amendment, which would have removed language from the energy bill that authorized an “inventory” of coastal oil and natural gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. The amendment failed 44-52. …More below:

+ + + Cantwell’s 2006 campaign site

+ + + Contact Senator Cantwell

I’m angry that I cannot find a single news story from a Washington state-based news service. The Kansas City Star‘s story, “Energy legislation’s scope is vast,” reports:

The bill the Senate is working out would impose tougher energy standards on refrigerators, air conditioners and other household appliances, but no one in Congress seems ready to squeeze a few more miles per gallon out of the family SUV.

For those who want to build windmills, brew corn-based alcohol, drill in the ocean or split an atom or two, the bill is a boon. Supporters of renewable fuels, such as wind, solar and ethanol, would get a boost from an array of tax breaks, while the oil, gas and nuclear industries would get a helping hand to pay for ocean drilling and other research and exploration.

The House and Senate versions of sweeping energy legislation — the Senate bill is 768 pages long — has a little, and sometimes a lot, for just about everyone.


A more ambitious amendment to set a goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2025 was defeated Thursday. Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington called it a “bold statement” in the vein of President John F. Kennedy’s ambition to get Americans to the moon.

But Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri called her amendment a back-door way to increase automobile fuel-efficiency standards. Americans would be left with “golf carts” instead of cars, he insisted. …

Golf carts, Sen. Bond? Brilliant.

More from Sen. Cantwell’s office:

The inventory would assess oil and gas resources in off-shore areas where drilling has been prohibited since President George H.W. Bush established moratoria in a 1990 Executive Order. Previously, the Reagan Administration had planned to lease more than 30,000 acres off the coast of Washington for oil exploration and development.

Statement of Maria Cantwell Regarding S. Amdt. 783,
Regarding the Outer Continental Shelf

Mr. President, I rise as a cosponsor of the Nelson-Martinez amendment, which would remove from the energy bill language that threatens decades-old Congressional and Executive Branch protections of sensitive coastal areas.

Protecting our nation’s fragile coasts is vitally important to my state’s economy. On the west coast of Washington, the livelihoods of many rural communities depend on fishing, tourism, and shellfish farming. These multi-million dollar industries depend on clean water and pristine coastlines.

In addition, the United States has entered into numerous treaties with coastal Indian tribes. Many of these treaties guarantee tribal fishing and shellfishing harvesting rights. We cannot set in motion a process that could damage these tribes’ ways of life, or allow any potential abrogation of our nation’s trust responsibilities.

Over the last several years, Washington State has been a leader in protecting sensitive marine areas. We worked closely with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration to establish the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses most of the waters off of the northwest coast of Washington. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of species including marine mammals.

These mammals include the majestic Orca whale, whose 20 percent population decline over the past decade triggered a “depleted” listing under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and may lead to a “threatened” listing under the Endangered Species Act. I am very concerned, Mr. President, that the exploratory activities allowed under the Senate Energy Bill could further harm this important symbol of the Northwest.

There are those who argue that a mere “inventory” of off-shore oil and gas supplies would do no harm. But I’d ask my colleagues to consider emerging scientific evidence related to “seismic” technology used to conduct these surveys. Studies have suggested that these techniques are more invasive than originally believed—particularly when it comes to their acoustic disruption of marine ecosystems. Potential interference with the sensory capacities of marine mammals may jeopardize fundamental activities such as foraging for food, avoiding predators, and caring for young.

Moreover, many coastal residents of my state still shudder when they recall the thick carpets of oil, hundreds of dead birds, and great shards of oil-blackened timber that followed a 1989 oil spill off Grays Harbor. That disaster stained over 300 miles of coastline. An oil well blowout could be many times worse.

While some argue that this is simply a study, my response is that we should not spend millions of taxpayer dollars to study something we know we don’t want to do. My constituents have told me they will not accept drilling rigs off the coast of communities like Willapa Bay, Neah Bay, or the mouth of the Columbia River.

There is an important question here. Where is it appropriate to drill, and where is it inappropriate? I agree with many of the Senators who have cited our nation’s growing need for more natural gas supplies. While I fully recognize this challenge, according to the EIA and MMS, the potential supplies off the coast of Washington are dwarfed by at least 32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that we know already exists in Alaskan fields.

That is gas that is currently being pumped back into the ground, and it is the reason we need to expedite the construction of a pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to the lower 48 states. Building this pipeline would provide years of domestic gas supply, create thousands of jobs, and provide a huge opportunity for the steel industry.

Mr. President, the Pew Oceans Commission has highlighted the fragility of our oceans and coastal resources and recommended we look at our oceans in a holistic manner – not through the narrow lens of oil and gas production but to look at the overall benefits provided by the oceans.

I think the Commission’s findings confirm the need to reject any provision that moves us towards future oil and gas drilling in National Marine Sanctuaries or off the coasts of protected federally owned national parks and wildlife refuges.

I encourage my colleagues to vote for the amendment.

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank the Senators from Florida for their leadership on this important issue.

+ + + Cantwell’s 2006 campaign site

+ + + Contact Senator Cantwell

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