March 30, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 35March 2001

Canadians believe Bush looking to Canada's Arctic for gas

Editor’s Note: The following news story came in this morning from our Calgary correspondent, Gary Park. It reflects Canada’s perception of President Bush’s remarks at yesterday’s White House press conference.

President George W. Bush, conceding that Congress might not agree to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration, said the United States will turn to Canada's North for new natural gas supplies.

"There's gas in our hemisphere and the fundamental question is where it's going to come from," he told a White House news conference. "I'd like it to be American gas, but if the Congress decides not to have exploration in ANWR, we'll work with the Canadians."

While pledging to continue his battle to open ANWR, he said "it's important for us to ... encourage exploration and work with the Canadians to get pipelines coming out of the Northwest Territories."

Bush said he has had "meaningful discussions" with Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien "about exploration in the Northwest Territories."

Officials in Chretien's office confirmed Vice President Dick Cheney and Chretien had a phone conversation two weeks ago to discuss ways of tapping the 9 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves in the NWT's Mackenzie Delta.

Canada's Energy Minister Ralph Goodale said he was encouraged by Bush's comments, but said it was too soon to rule out drilling on ANWR.

"I never count my chickens until they hatch, but I think this is very positive," he said. "Canada does not favor drilling that would interfere with the caribou calving grounds. It would appear that the message has been received."

Greg Stringham, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said a pipeline could be built and operating from the Delta within four to five years.

"The fact that the highest levels of the U.S. and Canadian governments are involved is a very good sign," he said. Stringham said Bush appears to be sending a signal that the United States wants energy quickly, no matter what the source.

Herrera says liberal press, others misconstrue Bush’s remarks

Oil and gas consultant Roger Herrera told PNA today that some members of the press misconstrued President George W. Bush’s remarks about ANWR at a White House news conference yesterday.

Herrera, who is under contract as a lobbyist for Arctic Power in Washington, D.C., said that Bush was "trying to answer what was a loaded question from a CNN reporter. The reporter said something to the effect, 'Mr. Bush you are clearly in favor of opening the coastal plain of ANWR to drilling and yet you can’t keep your own Republican senators in line on this issue. What are you going to do about that?' The president did not want to answer that question, so my interpretation is that he gave what I think is a very logical answer … that we’ll find our gas elsewhere."

Arctic Power keeps in close contact with the White House, Herrera said: "We absolutely have got to find more energy but the president clearly believes the best option is the domestic option. … That the president is looking for foreign energy … that’s stretch in my view."

Herrera thinks the chances of getting the coastal plain of ANWR opened for drilling are very good: "But having said that I think it’s going to be a tough and prolonged battle."

When asked about the importance of the Senate excluding ANWR from the budget bill, Herrera said, "we feared the budget process more than our opponents." He said anti-ANWR forces were better organized and funded. "Before the vote they had spent more $1 million on TV ads. We have spent about $15,000. We weren’t ready for that vote, so consequently delaying it will only help us, not harm us."

Herrera expects a final vote on ANWR in September.

In the meantime, he expects the energy crisis to get much worse. "The energy gurus tell us that the problems California is having will creep into other areas this summer."

The debate will really heat up, Herrera said, "in late April or early May when the vice president’s task force releases its energy plan.

"The message we get from the White House is consistently clear. There is an energy crisis and ANWR is part of the solution."

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