Alaskan senator doubts drilling progress

Jan. 8, 2005 at 8:53 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Alaska's senior Republican is not optimistic that a GOP majority in Congress will open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Sen. Ted Stevens's downbeat outlook on commercializing the nation's top exploration and production prospect contrasts with his upbeat assessment in October, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.

Difficult national issues like Social Security and a record federal deficit will steal time and effort that otherwise might have been available to get an ANWR measure to President Bush, Stevens said.

"I can't tell whether we're going to be able to overcome a minority again this time," Stevens said, referring to the ability of a minority of senators -- mostly Democrats, but a few moderate Republicans -- to block ANWR legislation.

"The question is, how can we get it to the floor?" Stevens said. "We have so many national issues out there right at the beginning of this Congress that are going to take a lot of time. And ANWR will take some time."

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