Senate turns back sweeping oil-drilling amendment

Sen. Pat RobertsPat RobertsUSDA extends comment period for 'certified organic' animal rule Senate contradicts itself on Gitmo GOP senators propose sending ISIS fighters to Gitmo MORE’s (R-Kan.) amendment, which failed 41-57, would have also extended several energy efficiency and renewable fuels tax incentives and extend a pay freeze for federal workers, among other provisions.

"My amendment addresses the rising cost of gasoline," said Roberts in support of his amendment prior to the vote. "It cuts red tape, opens up more federal land for oil-and-gas exploration and drilling, it would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and extend renewable tax provisions."

While the measure fell short, it provided Republicans another messaging vehicle, amid rising gasoline prices, to allege White House energy policies are keeping too many areas off-limits to development.

President Obama opposes opening the Arctic refuge in Alaska, and his administration’s offshore leasing plans are focused on the central and western Gulf of Mexico, where development is already centered.

The Interior Department’s 2012-2017 plan also calls for new lease sales in Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast in several years.

But Republicans and some conservative Democrats are pushing for allowing development in regions off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, among other areas.

They have also hammered Obama for rejecting — at least for now — the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta, Canada’s oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

The Roberts plan would have also required sales of commercial leases for development of oil shale in western states.

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