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Top Dems come out for ANWR protest
Anchorage Daily News


September 21, 2005

WASHINGTON - Busloads of college students, dozens of Alaska Natives and one slender man swathed in plastic bags were among hundreds of people who united on the U.S. Capitol grounds Tuesday to protest a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

The issue drew some high-profile Democrats to the podium - Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich. The biggest star, based on crowd reaction, was New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom the throng greeted with digital cameras and cell phones held aloft. She attacked the argument that drilling in ANWR has become more urgent in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the gas price hike that followed.

"It makes no sense to respond to a disaster in the gulf by making a disaster in Alaska," she said, to much applause.

A coalition of environmental groups staged the protest after a summer of rallying at college campuses and state fairs.

Drilling supporters, who say tapping ANWR would create jobs and boost domestic oil production, are pinning their hopes on a budget package Congress is supposed to consider next month. The budget reconciliation bill is likely to have an ANWR development measure in it, and it is immune to filibuster in the Senate.

"Everything is on the line in these final weeks of this Congress," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., perhaps the most vocal drilling opponent in the House.


Distributed by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service,

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