EPA chief promises Alaska a receptive ear

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2001

ANCHORAGE - Environmental Protection Agency chief Christie Todd Whitman says environmental protection does not mean locking up resources.

"Alaskans have a right to earn a living, a good living, to provide for themselves and their families. Protecting Alaska's environment does not require impoverishing Alaska's people," Whitman said at a meeting of the Resource Development Council in Anchorage.

Whitman made a soft pitch for the Bush energy plan and its provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But her speech contained almost no specifics about the EPA's plans in Alaska.

The EPA has been one of the lead federal agencies in the long process to put toilets and running water into Alaska's rural villages. Since 1996, the EPA has spent $164 million to address rural Alaska sanitation issues such as contaminated drinking water or a lack of sewer systems.

In a short press conference after her speech, Whitman said she may seek funding for a Bethel water-testing lab.

Whitman described the purpose of her trip as an opportunity to learn more about the state.

"Washington too often forgets that being an ally requires working in partnership, not dictating from afar," she said.



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