Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, November 27, 2006

Congress likely to stymie ANWR push

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FAIRBANKS - Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will likely face heavy opposition in the newly Democrat-controlled Congress, that is, if it's even considered at all.

"It's not a death blow," said Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, of his party's losses in both the House and the Senate. "It's a question of whether the votes are there. Right now, they're not there."

With Democrats in charge, oil drilling in the refuge, which Stevens has championed for decades, will not be seriously considered for at least the next two years, according to congressional observers.

National environmental groups noted that drilling in ANWR has been effectively stopped. Some drilling supporters, like California Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, the House Resources Committee chairman, were defeated in this month's election.

Some say that the Democratic majority, however, won't be able to pass an ANWR wilderness protection bill, just as the Republican majority proved too slim to open the refuge to drilling. Democrats opposed to drilling have relied heavily on procedural protections. Although Republicans controlled Congress and the executive office during the past six years, ANWR leasing legislation languished in part because Democratic senators mounted a successful filibuster and Republicans couldn't round up the 60 votes needed to overcome it.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said he plans to introduce an ANWR leasing bill next year, as he always does. He acknowledged, however, that it likely wouldn't go far.

Nevada's ranking for quakes questioned

RENO, Nev. - For years, John Anderson has said Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the country, behind California and Alaska.

Now, the Nevada Seismological Laboratory director is not so sure.

Alaska still ranks firmly in first and California second for earthquake activity, according to an Anderson study published in the latest issue of the Seismological Society of America's journal. But depending on how quake activity is measured, the No. 3 ranking goes to either Nevada or Hawaii.

"I really call it a tie," Anderson told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "Nevada and Hawaii are essentially tied."

With the help of University of Nevada, Reno colleague Yuichiro Miyata, Anderson compiled data on quake activity across the country. They consulted Advanced National Seismic System quake data from 1898 to 2005 and U.S. Geological Survey data on significant temblors from 1568 to 1989.

On the list that Anderson prefers - which ranks states on the greatest quake magnitude that is reached once per year on average - Nevada ranks third barely ahead of Hawaii. Ranked in order behind Nevada and Hawaii for quake activity are Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Oregon.

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