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December 21, 2005

Scott Elkins, State Director, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, (612) 659-9124

Senator Coleman Breaks Promise on Oil Drilling:
Votes to Permit Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Minneapolis — Today Senator Norm Coleman violated a pledge he repeatedly made to Minnesotans during and since his campaign for Senate, by voting for cloture on the Defense spending bill, which would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, the cloture motion fell four votes short of the required 60 votes, which sent the provision back to conference committee.

"Senator Coleman has broken his word to Minnesotans," said Ginny Yingling, Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club's Minnesota chapter. "The Senator wouldn't make many promises when it came to the environment, but preventing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was one. While Senator Coleman may try to hide behind the other elements of the bill, even the provision's sponsor, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, admitted in published reports that if the filibuster was sustained the Arctic drilling provision would be quickly removed and the rest of the bill passed intact*."

"We're pleased that Representative Jim Ramstad, a true moderate Republican, voted against the same bill when it came up in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday. His steadfast concern for the Arctic and our nation's other wildlands reflects the values of Minnesotans," said Yingling.

In addition to Ramstad, Representatives Sabo, Oberstar and McCollum also voted against the House version of the bill. Representative Mark Kennedy broke his earlier commitment to protect the Arctic and voted for the bill, as did Representatives Kline, Peterson and Gutknecht.

Senator Mark Dayton sustained his long-time opposition to Arctic drilling and voted against the cloture motion.

* Fairbanks Daily News Miner, "Stevens defends ANWR tactics" December 16, 2005
Fairbanks Daily News Miner, "ANWR face-off looms" December 18, 2005