WASHINGTON, DC — President George W. Bush has urged the Democratically controlled Senate to move ahead on the energy bill and its proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, calling it a matter of “national security.” The Democratic leadership, which has opposed drilling in the region, is now proposing an alternative.

Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), the majority leader, expressed support for construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope. According to the New York Times, natural gas is currently being extracted with oil, but the gas is being inserted back into the ground because there is no transport pipeline.

Republican leaders found the idea of a natural gas pipeline desirable, but still stress the need for boosting the country’s oil supply.

Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton repeated the president’s message that the U.S. needed to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, to increase security as it fights terrorism.