Sierra Club airing anti-ANWR radio ads in Arizona

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Sierra Club out to sway McCain.

Sergio Bustos, Gannett News Service

Feb. 20, 2002

WASHINGTON - The Sierra Club, one of the nation's most vocal and powerful environmentalist groups, will air radio ads in Arizona this week, prodding voters to urge Sen. John McCain to oppose Bush administration plans to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.


The Senate is expected to take up the issue when it reconvenes next week.

The ads specifically target McCain, a Republican, because he is undecided on the issue. Jon Kyl, also an Arizona Republican, supports the plan.

"Senator McCain is taking a close look at both sides of the issue and believes the Sierra Club has a perfect right to run the ads, just as groups who support exploration do," Nancy Ives, McCain's spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

The Bush administration favors drilling as part of a national energy plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The House approved a bill to drill in the Arctic last summer when it passed the president's energy plan.

The refuge was set aside as a national wildlife preserve in 1960.

The Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club is paying for the Arizona spots.

Ads feature firefighters who helped with recovery efforts at the World Trade Center, and include an Oregon firefighter who tells listeners that he personally told Bush to oppose the drilling when the two met in Portland.

A narrator's voice then encourages Arizona voters to telephone McCain's Senate office in Tucson to urge him to oppose drilling.

"Drilling the Arctic Refuge won't solve our energy problems," the ad says. "The answer is conservation and efficiency, raising the miles per gallon of our cars and SUVs and using more solar and wind power."

Wendy Balazik, a Sierra Club spokeswoman, said the organization would not disclose how much it planned to spend in Arizona, or nationally, on the ad campaign.

The group is airing similar ads targeting undecided Democratic and Republican senators in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Sergio Bustos is a reporter for The Arizona Republic and Gannett News Service. Reach him at sbustos@gns.gannett.com or (202) 906-8109.
 

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