The United States Senate voted down an amendment to open oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and approve construction of the Keystone pipeline project March 13th, 2012. The vote passed 57 to 41. This goes against a vote earlier from the House of Representatives on February 16th, 2012, to open the ANWR to oil and gas development that passed 237-187.

This was the first time in four years that the Senate voted on a measure to drill oil in the ANWR.

Senators found too many controversial items in the amendment proposed by Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts to pass it, according to a report by the Anchorage Daily News. The amendment to the bill that funds transportation projects across the nation sought to open the Arctic refuge’s coastal plains to drilling. It would have also “allowed drilling in vast areas of the nation’s coastal waters, including the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, offshore Virginia and Alaska’s Bristol Bay, would have approved the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and would have reinstated 11th hour regulations from President Bush that would allow massive commercial-scale leasing of our western public lands for oil shale and tar sands developments,” according to Defenders of Wildlife.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, was happy with the decision. After the vote, she said, “The Senate today continued the legacy of keeping dirty and dangerous drilling out of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, demonstrating a commitment to our country’s natural treasures and a refusal to engage in the Big Oil giveaway that is keeping its Congressional counterpart spinning its wheels.”

Photo: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

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