WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 2, 2001 — The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed major parts of President Bush’s energy development plan including the controversial provision to drill for oil in an Arctic wildlife refuge.

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham praised the action, calling the legislation an “important step toward meeting our long-term energy needs and reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

“America’s energy challenges are long-term problems that cannot be solved with quick fixes. I congratulate the House Leadership and the members of the House of Representatives who supported passage for forthrightly addressing those challenges with solutions that will ensure America’s energy security for generations to come.”

The vote was a major victory for President Bush’s national energy plan, but will still face still opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The House still must address the siting of power plants and power lines, electricity deregulation, and the development of nuclear power.

The bill was passed by a 240-189 vote after a debate about whether oil companies should be allowed into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska.

Democratic Senator John Kerry vowed to fight passage of the bill in the Senate.

“Destroying the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, this national treasure, is a complete political non-starter — I remain committed to filibuster any effort to drill in the refuge, it will never pass the Senate, and I look forward to sitting down with leaders from both sides of the aisle to explore, meaningful, reasonable, and creative alternatives.”

The Senate will not act on the bill until September at the earliest, according to a report from the Associated Press.