Tapping into the refuge's potential 10 billion barrels of crude oil is a key part of the Bush administration's national energy plan to boost domestic petroleum supplies and reduce America's addiction to foreign oil imports.
Drilling supporters see attaching the ANWR provision to the defense spending measure as their last-ditch effort to finally give oil companies access to the refuge after a group of House of Representative Republicans threatened to kill a separate budget deficit reduction bill if that legislation contained the drilling language.
Most Democrats are against drilling in the refuge and argue the Defense Department budget bill should not be used to settle the issue.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said if the ANWR drilling language is in the defense spending legislation Democrats would argue it violates Senate rules because the provision is not related to defense issues. "The (Senate) parliamentarian will rule in our favor," Reid told reporters.
"It's appalling that the United States Senate is willing to hold our troops and hurricane victims hostage to their desperate attempts to satisfy big oil and drill in the Arctic Refuge," said John Kerry.
The Sierra Club sent out an Action Alert -- "Call your Senators RIGHT NOW at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to do everything in their power to stop the drilling lobby from hijacking the Defense spending bill with Arctic Refuge drilling."