WASHINGTON - December 16 - Unable to pass his Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling plan in the budget reconciliation bill, today Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) announced he is attaching his drilling provision to the Defense Appropriations bill. Below is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President, Rodger Schlickeisen:
"Sneaking a provision that authorizes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into the Defense Appropriations bill is irreprehensible. The drilling proposal has no place in a defense bill that addresses vital national security priorities and is needed to support our men and women in uniform.
"Todayís last minute maneuvering by pro-drilling proponents constitutes an attempt to hijack our nationís defense spending bill and exploit one of our nationís greatest and most pristine wild places on earth for the sake of appeasing a narrow, special interest agenda. This action is indefensible, an abuse of Senate rules and shows just how far some members are willing to go for oil companies.
"By including language in the Defense bill that authorizes drilling in the Arctic Refuge, these members are playing politics with our nationís defense and those serving in our Armed Forces. Our national security is too important to muddle it up with provisions that have absolutely nothing to do with defense and everything to do with politics, special-interests and money-hungry oil conglomerates.
"Millions of conservation-minded Americans have spoken and have repeatedly called for Congress to keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge closed to oil and gas drilling. That some members have chosen to ignore those calls and instead are manipulating the democratic process is appalling. Members who believe in the democratic process should reject this underhanded attempt to force a vote on this unpopular provision."