We all know that Sen.Ted Stevens badly wants to pass legislation to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Now we're finding out the lengths he's willing to go to. Having failed to force a drilling provision through as part of the budget reconciliation bill, he now plans to attach it as a rider to the defense appropriations bill.
This is an act of desperation and of cynical political manipulation. The defense spending bill is a vital piece of legislation. It provides the money that supports our troops at home and overseas. Furthermore, it already contains attachments authorizing funding for victims of Hurricane Katrina and enacting John McCain's newly-forged anti-torture bill. As out of place as arctic drilling was in a budget reconciliation bill, it is even more ludicrous in a defense spending initiative. In fact, cramming it into the defense bill may violate Senate rules.
Moreover, refuge drilling is a highly unpopular notion in the country at large - that's why it was pulled out of the reconciliation measure. It now threatens to stall or even sink an essential piece of legislation. In effect, Stevens is holding our armed forces and hurricane victims hostage for his single-minded agenda.
Whatever your opinions about oil development, his action is inappropriate. I suggest telling him so by calling his D.C. office. It's time the powerful Senator Stevens realizes that there is a reason his 20-year effort to open the refuge for drilling has been unsuccessful: America doesn't want it to happen.
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