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Alaska Drilling Holds Benefits for California

October 08, 2002

"Snow Job on Arctic Drilling," your Oct. 1 editorial opposing oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, was surprisingly uninformed. While your concern for preserving elk habitat is laudable, there are no elk within 750 miles of the Arctic. Perhaps this effort would be better directed toward tule elk conservation in California.

Similarly, you deny California's most important connection to Alaskan oil (other than environmental fund-raising): Your state refines nearly 1 million barrels of Alaskan oil every day. By law, Alaskan oil must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed, double-hulled tankers, including three new tankers being built in California shipyards over the next three years.

By not allowing additional Alaska oil development, you risk bringing another 1 million barrels of foreign oil each day into California waters.

This foreign oil arrives on California's shores in single-hulled tankers, like the one that fouled Alaska's waters in 1989. Your opposition to ANWR drilling actually increases the risk of a major oil spill in California waters--the same waters that California protects at great cost by blocking its own offshore oil development.

Perhaps The Times should worry more about California's supposedly fragile shores than a frozen wasteland 2,600 miles north of your offices.

Sen. Ted Stevens

R-Alaska

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