By a 52-47 vote on S.1932 §401, the US Senate today directed the Department of the Interior to begin selling oil leases within four years in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), with the goal of raising $2.4 billion to lower the deficit and, tangentially, help pay for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Oil would not be available for another ten years, and according to a 2003 DOE report, opening the Alaska refuge to drilling would only reduce U.S. dependence on imported crude oil in 2025 from 70 percent to 66 percent. The House of Representatives decides next week on whether to keep the drilling measure in the bill.
What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn? "The money missing from all ministries under the interim Iraqi government appointed by the US in June 2004 may turn out to be close[r] to $2bn... Many Iraqi soldiers and police have died because they were not properly equipped. In Baghdad they often ride in civilian pick-up trucks vulnerable to gunfire, rocket- propelled grenades or roadside bombs. For months even men defusing bombs had no protection against blasts because they worked without bullet-proof vests. These were often promised but never turned up."
US energy bill is held up by a pro-MTBE provision that bipartisan Senators promised they would not sign into law. Nervous MTBE manufacturers, in an effort to divest themselves of potential asbestos-like liability lawsuits, have been donating millions in campaign contributions to the cause, despite peer-reviewed research pointing to lingering questions about safety (PDF) and utility (PDF).