$3 Million Set Aside to Sell U.S. on Drilling

There’s one thing you can say about Alaska’s senior senator, Ted Stevens: he’s nothing if he’s not resilient. In March 2005, when the Arctic Refuge fight was just heating up, Sen. Stevens claimed that he was so depressed from his long fight to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that he would consider retiring if he was not able to get his way that year. (“ANWR struggle leaves Stevens ‘depressed'”)

No retirement plans for the senator seem to be in the works, however, even though the budget bill and the following defense bill drilling schemes both fell flat.

In fact, Stevens has instead declared 2006 as the year Arctic drilling must pass. And apparently he is willing to put his money where his mouth is–or at least the money of his Alaskan constituents.

In response to Sen. Steven’s 2006 Arctic drilling demands, the Alaska legislature is currently in the process of approving $3 million of Alaska state funds for a no-bid contract with an Oregon public relations firm named Pac/West Communications for the sole purpose of promoting oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge throughout the country. (“Controversy taints choice for ANWR PR”)

This newest maneuver is especially remarkable when you consider that the State of Alaska, which has no state income tax, gets over 80 percent of its budget from the oil and gas industry. Yep, that’s right. Essentially, the State of Alaska is paying an out-of-state PR firm, using money primarily from the oil and gas industry, to come into YOUR neighborhood and tell YOU why drilling our nation’s largest and wildest Refuge–a program that would greatly financially benefit the State of Alaska and the oil and gas industry–is in YOUR best interest.