Group targets Stevens for what it calls pork-barrel spending

Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A group that targets what it considers pork-barrel spending has taken Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to task.

Citizens Against Government Waste said Tuesday that Stevens helped put Alaska at the top of its list in per capita pork-barrel spending in the current fiscal year,

Stevens' efforts

''The Snow Job Award'' for his ''blizzard of $451 million in pork for fiscal 2002.''

Alaska led the list again this year again despite Stevens' loss of the Senate Appropriations Committee chairmanship to Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., in June 2001. West Virginia was ranked third in per capita spending, at $215.

It all added up to $20.1 billion in this fiscal year, up from $18.5 billion last year, according to the watchdog group.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appeared at the group's news conference and said the pork was endangering the nation's defense and fiscal health.

In past years, Stevens has disputed the group's definition of pork.

This year, Stevens, who is working to get the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge opened to oil drilling, was more blunt when approached on the steps of the Capitol.

''My mind's on ANWR, not that crap,'' Stevens told reporters who asked him about the group's report.

Citizens Against Government Waste defines pork-barrel spending as anything requested by only one chamber of Congress; not authorized by separate legislation; not competitively awarded; not requested by the president; greatly over the president's budget; not subjected to hearings or only for a local or special interest.

Stevens has said the group's criteria are too broad.

The group publishes what it views as the most egregious examples of pork. Among the Alaska items:

--$2.25 million to build a new ski lodge at Birch Hill in Fairbanks.

--$600,000 for a physical fitness center at Fort Wainwright.

--$300,000 for a vehicle maintenance facility at Eielson Air Force Base.

--$24 million for water and sewer work in rural Alaska.

--$9.4 million for a fisheries laboratory in Juneau.

--$12.8 million for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, an array of antennas near Gakona that disturbs the ionosphere in an attempt to improve radio communications and surveillance technology.

--$2 million to Sealaska, the Southeast Alaska regional Native corporation, for an ethanol project.

--$2.5 million for the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

--$20 million for the Denali Commission, a panel created by Stevens and authorized by Congress to fund projects designed to improve health care and the economy in rural Alaska.

--$18 million for a training facility at Fort Richardson near Anchorage.

--$20 million for the Alaska Railroad.

--$3 million for a water service extension in Girdwood, Stevens' hometown in Alaska.

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