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Alaska Legislators Lobby Washington on ANWR

March 12, 2001
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Alaska Legislators Lobby Washington on ANWR

The issue of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska continues to heat up as state legislators continue in their attempts to pry open the restricted lands to natural gas and oil production. Members of the Alaska state legislature were in Washington, DC this week pleading there case for lease sales in the contested area to begin in the near future, while trying to lay old myths to rest regarding the environmental impact.

Citing the amount of oil and natural gas believed to be on-site, the pro-opening ANWR group Arctic Power said the Coastal Plain of ANWR is America's best possibility for the discovery of another giant "Prudhoe Bay-sized" oil and gas discovery in North America.

"It was amazing to talk to people who had such an inappropriate understanding of the facts about ANWR itself," said Brian Porter, Alaska's Speaker of the House. "The first one that comes to mind is that there is only six months worth of oil for United States consumption, so what is all the fuss about. That is just not true, there is five-10 years of consumption for the United States if the potential is even close to reality."

Another misconception Porter said that was running rampant was that the whole refuge was going to be tapped for exploration, when in fact the proposals outline a relatively contained area.

"There were folks that thought we wanted to suggest poking holes all over the 19 million acres of the refuge," Porter told Daily GPI. "The fact is that is nowhere close to true, the footprint technology that we have developed ÿ- not only here but around the world - would allow such a small footprint that Senator Murkowski's statements about it being about the size of Dulles International Airport are true."

The representative said that the pictures the environmentalists always show are taken facing the mountains, not towards the actual development area. He said the myths that he and other Alaskan legislators put to rest left Washington lawmakers "scratching their heads." Porter said his group pleaded with the lawmakers that if they thought any of the facts presented were erroneous, to come check it out for themselves.

The speaker said that the timetable for opening ANWR would depend greatly on getting a question on ANWR into the budget bill. If that occurs, then we are getting close he said. "I think we at least put a dent in the gigantic effort that the conservation community has put forward on this poster child of theirs," said Porter. "Quite frankly, I am amazed that what they (environmentalists) have been saying has been excepted so readily, because 99% of it is just BS."

For more information on ANWR and the group Arctic Power, visit www.anwr.org/

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