FAIRBANKS - U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says a national energy bill will contain a provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
DeLay's statements came Wednesday, a day after two House Republicans and fellow Texans said a national energy bill would not contain language to open the refuge to development.
Those comments were made by Reps. Joe Barton and Ralph Hall. Barton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Hall is chairman of the panel's energy subcommittee. The two said they expected ANWR to be considered in the House as separate stand-alone legislation.
That view prompted Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif. and chairman of the House Resources Committee to speak up, expressing surprise at Barton and Hall's remarks.
DeLay said he supports Pombo's position on ANWR.
"I know that Chairman Pombo is committed to ensuring any final bill that reaches the floor has an ANWR provision," DeLay said. "I wholeheartedly supported his efforts in the past and will do so again this year."
DeLay noted that several House committees are writing different sections of the energy bill. Those will "ultimately be combined to form the comprehensive package that will reach the House floor," he said.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, has said consistently that he believes the ANWR language should go in a comprehensive energy bill. His spokesman said Wednesday that Young's views haven't changed.
"He still holds the same position: There's no energy bill without ANWR," Grant Thompson told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.