Bad news for the Porcupine caribou

Thursday evening, things took a turn for the worse for the Porcupine caribou herd. The US Senate voted to pass the 2007 budget, which includes…

Thursday evening, things took a turn for the worse for the Porcupine caribou herd.

The US Senate voted to pass the 2007 budget, which includes provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“It’s underhanded to put ANWR into the budget bill — it’s not illegal but it’s underhanded,” said Liberal MP Larry Bagnell yesterday.

“It’s not the way a major policy should be decided.”

When a big issue like drilling in ANWR is being decided, it should be debated as a separate bill, an energy bill, he said.

It shouldn’t be complicated in the budget bill, he added.

The Senate passed the budget 51 to 49.

“I thought it might be a tie,” said Bagnell who was watching it on the web.

“But a Democrat voted in its favour. I’m disappointed in that Democrat.”

The problem is there were things in the budget these senators support, even though they might not support the drilling, he said.

And there were five Republicans who probably supported the drilling, but voted against the budget because they didn’t like the spending.

“And some of these senators think it’s unethical to put a policy issue into a budget bill too,” said Bagnell.

The House of Representatives must also pass the 2007 budget before it becomes official.

“But in the House of Representatives, there is even a bigger majority who support the drilling,” said Bagnell.

“And if it’s a tie, the vice-president breaks the tie, and he’s a big oil man.

“But this doesn’t mean we aren’t going to fight.”

The Canadian Embassy is constantly working on the swing senators, he said.

“And it’s also an election year, which works in our favour, because people are loath to pass controversial stuff during election years.”

If the House of Representatives votes against the budget, then it goes to a conference committee, which comes up with a compromise budget, which could exclude the drilling provision.

This compromised budget would then go back to both houses for a final vote.