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Oil in Alaska

In the article "Alaska's Murkowski, Young, Start Reelection Fireworks," May 19, the author says that business leaders were "disappointed" with me for the failure to win Senate approval of legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas developments. That is misleading, indeed.

Alaskans may be disappointed that liberal Democrats successfully filibustered against an energy bill authorizing ANWR development, and that when the Republican Caucus agreed unanimously to consent to consider ANWR, six Democrats objected to permitting a fair vote on whether to permit development in a tiny sliver of the refuge.

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But most Alaskans know I was able to get drilling in ANWR closer to passage than it's ever been, for the first time getting ANWR out of the Senate Energy Committee by a 17 to 3 vote, and then winning repeal of a "blackmail clause" that might have kept Alaska from arguing for its fair share of revenues once ANWR development wins approval.

I expect the Senate, next spring after election-year partisanship subsides, to again consider opening ANWR to development. Given our dangerous decline in domestic oil production and our rapid loss of energy-industry jobs overseas, even with new conservation efforts, our need for ANWR's oil should be so clear by then that ANWR's passage in the Senate, I believe, is likely. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Washington (R) of Alaska

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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