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Published on Monday, April 30, 2001
Ari the Evader by Russell Mokhiber...
Ari & I
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
April 30, 2001, 2:00 p.m.
by Russell Mokhiber

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 –



-Thanks to Russell Mokhiber

White House reporter Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter - He co-authors the weekly Focus on the Corporation column with Robert Weissman which Common Dreams publishes. He can be reached at:


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