U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens repeated his call for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during a speech at the Capitol on Thursday.
He said fuel costs in Washington, D.C., have nearly doubled in a year as oil prices have risen.
``We all know the answer to America's current energy crises - ANWR must be opened,'' Stevens said. ``Wells must be restored to production and this nation must reduce its dependency on foreign oil.''
Alaska's senior U.S. senator, a Republican, spoke on a wide range of issues, from accomplishments by the state's congressional delegation to the need to invest in kids to BP-Amoco's merger with Arco.
Stevens attacked the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to block the pending merger.
``It's time to get the bureaucrats out of the energy business,'' Stevens said. ``It is time to get Alaska back to work.''
Stevens also told the Legislature that it should spend money on drug and alcohol prevention programs and early education for kids.
``Children who participate in early learning programs are less likely to require special education,'' he said, ``and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. They are less likely to become pregnant before they are married. They are less likely to engage in violence, be arrested or use drugs.''
Education, especially in the Bush, is another issue Stevens said he is working on.
``I intend to offer amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to specifically (help) with rural education in areas such as Alaska,'' he said. ``Attracting and retaining teachers is a major problem. Last year, over 80 teaching positions went unfilled in rural Alaska. Many vacancies that were filled went to people without teaching certificates.''
On a lighter note, Stevens said he didn't come to just to speak to the Legislature. He wanted to talk to the Craig Republican lawmaker who has proposed paying out half of the Alaska Permanent Fund in a one-time dividend.
``I'm not sure what you are here for, I came to see (state Senator) Jerry Mackie to pick up my $25,000 check,'' Stevens said.
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