ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Sen. Ted Stevens said Friday that Alaska's big oil producers need to get more involved in pushing for oil exploration in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Stevens told reporters that BP, Exxon-Mobil and Phillips Petroleum need to be more engaged in rebutting attacks on ANWR drilling.
He said the oil companies are showing little interest in getting involved in the ANWR fight right now because they can drill elsewhere with less political conflict and cost.
Stevens, Sen. Frank Murkowski and Rep. Don Young said they expect predictions of higher gasoline prices and shortages this summer to change the dynamics of the ANWR debate.
''The next field of battle is at the pump,'' Stevens said.
Stevens said the fight is similar to that over the trans-Alaska oil pipeline nearly three decades ago. It took the Arab oil embargo and long lines at gas stations to change public opinion then, Stevens said, and he expects that will happen again.
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