Alaska state legislators say timing is right for ANWR leasing

Alaska lawmakers Wednesday said they hope the federal government will soon hold a lease sale in the hotly disputed coastal plain region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill say the region is too environmentally sensitive to expose to any commercial development.

Mar 7th, 2001


By the OGJ Online Staff


WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 7
�Alaska lawmakers Wednesday said they hope the federal government will soon hold a lease sale in the hotly disputed coastal plain region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

�Timing is everything,� Alaska Speaker of the House Brian Porter told OGJ Online. �And we think we can get there now.� ANWR is off limits to drilling and a group of bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill say the region is too environmentally sensitive to expose to any commercial development.

However, drilling proponents said opposition to ANWR is not insurmountable, even if the environmental lobby currently appears to be winning the public relations battle.

According to the grassroots group Arctic Power, environmental groups are outspending drilling advocates five to one. Nevertheless, Arctic Power said high fuel prices and a new $1.5 million public information campaign on the potential economic and energy security benefits of ANWR drilling will help refocus the debate.

Fourteen of the Alaska�s 60 state legislators lobbied members of Congress this week to allow drilling in ANWR. They also visited the new Interior Sec. Gale Norton. At a press conference sponsored by Arctic Power, the state legislators said Norton seemed �sympathetic� to their arguments. The legislators also said they presented a �laundry list� of rules crafted during the Clinton administration they would like to see changed.

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