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GOP Candidate Stark Visiting Alaska’s ANWR to Research Oil Drilling

July 4, 2008

By Reid Magney, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 4–Republican congressional candidate Paul Stark of Eau Claire said Thursday he’ll fly to Alaska this month to learn about drilling for oil in the arctic.

In La Crosse on Thursday, Stark said he and several other GOP congressional candidates are going to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on their own. “It’s just a fact-finding mission. We’re going as private citizens. We’re all paying our own way. There is no big oil money or anything helping us with this,” Stark said.

“People are suffering economically because of these high fuel prices, and I feel as Americans we need to explore all different forms of American energy, and there are many different forms,” he said. “I think ANWR seems to be the centerpiece. It’s not the end-all and be-all. It’s not the only place we need to explore.”

Stark’s Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse, has voted in the past against drilling in ANWR, citing concerns about the environment, the length of time it would take to bring that oil to market and its limited effect on prices. He has advocated conservation and development of alternative fuels.

According to The Hill, a newspaper covering Congress, Stark will be joined by Craig Williams from Pennsylvania, Chris Lien of South Dakota, and Luke Puckett and Mike Sodrel, both of Indiana.

Stark said the group will fly to Anchorage on July 14, then to Fairbanks on July 15, where they’ll take a chartered plane to the Arctic Circle for the day.

They’ll fly over the entire area, then land and meet with the mayor of Barrow, at the northernmost tip of Alaska. Stark said they also hope to meet with other officials before returning July 17.

ANWR is a 19 million acre reserve in northeast Alaska, and drilling for oil there has been the subject of debate for decades, in part because of the potential for harm to wildlife there. Recent high fuel prices have accelerated calls for drilling to increase the domestic oil supply.

Reid Magney can be reached at rmagney@lacrossetribune.com.

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