Mokhiber: The President said that drilling should be allowed in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because he's convinced that it can be
done in "an environmentally friendly fashion."
But the Wall Street Journal on April 13 ran a lengthy front-page
article. It reported that days before Gale Norton's trip to Prudhoe Bay,
state inspectors found that almost a third of the safety shut-off valves
tested at one drilling platform failed to close.
The President is close friends with Bob Malone who is the BP executive
in charge. Apparently, Malone helped him pick out the ranch in Texas.
The question is did the President see this article which said
that 100 workers say that because the oil fields are operated in a
slipshod manner, there could be jeopardy to the environment?
Did he see the article and what are the chances that his decision was
unduly influenced by Bob Malone, his friend.
Ari Fleischer: I haven't asked the president about his particular
reading habits with regard to that article. But as you know, Vice
President Cheney is giving a speech right now about the importance of
developing a way to secure America's energy needs and America's energy
In regard to the specific question of ANWR, of course, the Vice
President will get into this today. ANWR is 19 million acres. The amount
of area that the President is proposing to open up to exploration is
2000 acres. Another way to put it is: ANWR is the size of South Carolina. The area that the President is proposing to use new technology
developed resources is the size of Dulles Airport 2,000 acres. It's a
very small part of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. (sic).
Mokhiber: If I could follow up.
Ari Fleischer: to develop a lot of resources.
Mokhiber: They are not saying it's not a question of size. What these
100 workers in the Wall Street Journal are saying is that these shut-off
valves, which would prevent a disastrous oil spill in ANWR are
inherently flawed -- there are design flaws. They are saying, it's not a question if its as big as Dulles or National. It's a question that BP,
which is operating Prudhoe, will be operating ANWR, and you have the
same kind of slipshod management.
Ari Fleischer: If you are asking me a question about shut-off valves,
I'll refer you to the agency that handles shut-off valves. It's not the
White House press conference