Platform passes without ANWR protest, but fight not over

Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Alaska delegates didn't carry through on their threat Tuesday to vote against the Democratic platform to protest a plank against development in the Arctic National Refuge and the Tongass National Forest.

Most of the delegates, however, said they planned a public display Wednesday to make their feelings known. They say they'll wear hard hats emblazoned with ANWR slogans.

''We're hoping to get a little attention,'' said Mano Frey, head of the Alaska AFL-CIO.

Frey had considered a floor fight over the ANWR plank, but decided against it after talking with party officials who told him that no plank approved by the Platform Committee had been removed by the full convention in recent memory.

The plank reads: ''Al Gore is committed to restoring the Everglades, protecting the coasts of California and Florida and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling; and preserving our untouched forest, including the Tongass, from logging and development.''

Unlike Democrats nationally, the Alaska Democratic Party has endorsed responsible oil development in the refuge. The U.S. Energy Department estimates that 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil lie beneath the refuge's coastal plain. If developed, that oil could bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue and royalties to Alaska.

Gore has long been an opponent of disturbing a refuge that environmentalists view as one of the last wild places that is virtually untouched by humans. Vast herds of caribou and flocks of migratory birds use the refuge to bear their young.

Frey and a handful of other Alaska delegates are keeping themselves uncommitted to Gore in the hopes of forcing a meeting with the candidate or one of his senior policy advisers.

''Our hope is to educate his administration about the importance of Alaska as a resource extraction state,'' Frey said. ''It's not just oil, but minerals, timber, fish.''

The Gore campaign has said it would meet with Frey but no date has been set.

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