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[greenyes] More on ANWR
Apologies for duplications.


From ENN:

Alaska allocates money to lobby for drilling in ANWR

19 March 2003
By Yereth Rosen, Reuters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska  Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski signed a special
appropriations bill this week that earmarks $1.3 million of state funds
to lobby for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 
The bill allocates $1.1 million to Arctic Power, an Anchorage-based
nonprofit group with the sole purpose of campaigning in favor of opening
the northeastern Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling.

It gives $100,000 to a lobbying effort conducted by the governor's
office and an additional $100,000 for lobbying by the Inupiat Eskimo
village of Kaktovik, a community on the refuge's coastal plain that is
largely in favor of development.

Murkowski said state funding for the campaign, granted each year by the
legislature, is especially important now that Republican leaders of the
Senate are seeking to attach a pro-drilling provision to a budget bill
and could avoid a Democratic-led filibuster.

"It is critical, given the opportunity we now have in Congress to get
ANWR open, to have the funding we will need to make it happen," said
Murkowski in a news release. He is a former U.S. senator who spent much
of his career advocating for oil drilling in the refuge

Alaska is heavily dependent on oil money. About three-quarters of its
government operating revenues come from oil royalties, taxes, and fees;
there is no state personal income tax or sales tax, and a state-owned
trust fund, created with oil wealth, pays residents an annual dividend.

Nearly all elected officials in Alaska support Arctic Refuge drilling.
The proposal is a keystone of President Bush's national energy strategy
but is opposed by environmentalists.

State funding typically provides about half of Arctic Power's annual
budget, and this year's appropriation was similar to those made in past
years. But it was significantly less than the $3 million that Arctic
Power had requested.

Kim Duke, executive director of Arctic Power, said the group may seek
more legislative support later this year, depending how events unfold in
Congress. She said she is hopeful that approval is imminent and that
Arctic Power will have fulfilled its mission.

Opponents of drilling criticized the state contribution to Arctic
Power, as they have in past years.

Wealthy oil companies will be the beneficiaries of the state funding,
said Faith Gemmell, program coordinator for the Gwich'in Steering
Committee, an antidrilling group representing Athabaskan Indians from
the Arctic Refuge region.

"They can fund their own lobbying," she said. "The funds that have been
appropriated for this lobbying are most likely going to be cut from
programs that our rural communities rely on. It's basically not right."



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