But the President has now spoken out in favor of continued
protection for the coastal plain, which is the biological heart of the nation's
richest wildlife refuge. In a letter to Alaska's Senator Frank Murkowski,
Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Alice Rivlin,
Director of the President's Office of Management and Budget, states
unequivocally that the President will veto any reconciliation bill that
"includes language to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling...."
The significance of the letter should not be lost on the
Congress, which has yet to vote on the reconciliation bill. Clearly that bill is
destined to include a long list of provisions that could produce threats of a
Presidential veto. The fact that the President has identified the Arctic refuge
drilling issue as one that by itself will cause him to veto the bill means that
issue is non-negotiable.
The President's promise of a veto means it will be impossible for the Alaska delegation to continue hiding behind the skirts of the budget reconciliation bill. Now if they want to try to plunder this unique and priceless part of the public lands belonging to all Americans, they are going to have to convince their colleagues to stand by them and do it in full view of the public itself.
Contact(s):Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270