Knowles to do ANWR drilling spot on 60 Minutes

Posted: Monday, January 15, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles will join a crew from the CBS news program 60 Minutes in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, as proposed oil development in ANWR's coastal plain looms as a difficult battle for the president-elect.

Knowles was headed from Juneau to Anchorage Monday to be interviewed by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl. On Tuesday, the governor and Stahl were scheduled to fly to Kaktovik, the sole community on ANWR's coastal plain.

''The governor will be prepared to make the case about why responsible development of ANWR should go forward,'' said Knowles' spokesman, Bob King. King said the program is also planning to interview Deborah Williams, executive director of the Alaska Conservation Foundation.

Williams was formerly Alaska representative of outgoing Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, a steadfast opponent of drilling in ANWR.

Producers from 60 Minutes have already conducted a half-hour inteview with Knowles by phone, King said. He said the questions focused on technology and policy issues.

''(They were pursuing) the fundamental policy question of whether development can take place within the coastal plain in a responsible manner,'' King said.

During the initial interview, Knowles used the new Alpine oil field, operated on the North Slope by Phillips Petroleum Co, as an example of environmentally responsible development, King said.

New horizontal drilling techniques allow Phillips to reach oil pockets as far as a mile away at Alpine.

The governor will return to Juneau on Tuesday night, King said, while 60 Minutes plans to tour areas of the North Slope, including the Prudhoe Bay oil field.

The 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of ANWR is estimated to contain somewhere from 5.7 billion to 16 billion barrels of oil.

Environmentalists and the Gwich'in Indians of Interior Alaska and Northwest Canada assert that development would jeopardize wildlife in the coastal plain, particularly the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd.

President-elect George W. Bush has pledged to open the coastal plan to oil exploration and development.

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