ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Conservationists are running radio and print ads in 23 states to criticize U.S. House members who voted to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and praise those who said no.
Four environmental groups -- the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth -- have launched separate but coordinated ad campaigns.
Scott Stoermer, spokesman for the League of Conservation Voters, said the campaign uses the context of last week's House vote to raise awareness of the issue and to suggest to senators that their constituents will be watching how they vote.
''Our main focus is on heightening citizens' attention on the Senate vote,'' he said.
Most of his group's ads thank House members for their vote.
''In Minnesota, we've got a reputation for basic common sense. . . . So we're a little proud of Mark Kennedy right now, the man we sent to Congress,'' says the ad that ran in that Republican's district in southwest Minnesota. ''Big oil and big coal'' were ''buying votes on the Bush energy plan -- and to drill in one of the last, best places on earth -- the Arctic wildlife refuge,'' the ad says.
Kennedy voted against the bill. The ad urges listeners to contact the state's two senators.
''We know they'll make Minnesota proud too,'' the narrator says.
Two of the league's eight ads are negative.
''In New Hampshire, we've got a reputation for Yankee common sense. So we're real disappointed with John Sununu right now, the man we sent to Congress to listen to us, not a bunch of lobbyists in Washington,'' a narrator says. The Teamsters, the ad continues, ''told Sununu to support drilling in the fragile Arctic wildlife refuge, and he handed over his vote.''
The group is spending $105,000 on air time. The Natural Resources Defense Council has run seven similar ads, all of them negative. The group wouldn't say how much it is spending. The Sierra Club criticizes nine House members and thanks one. Friends of the Earth plans to run about six ads, all of them targeting lawmakers who voted for drilling.
The Democratic leadership, when it took control of the Senate in June, had declared ANWR drilling dead on arrival. But after the Teamsters and other unions pushed a drilling measure through the House on Aug. 1, Senate leaders seemed less certain of their prediction.
The Senate is expected to take up an energy bill after Congress returns from its August recess.
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