Republican U.S. House of Representatives candidate Chris Lien visited several areas of Alaska last week including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
He went with six other House candidates: Luke Puckett of Indiana, Mike Sodrel of Indiana, Greg Goode of Indiana, Jason Chafets of Utah, Paul Stark of Wisconsin, and Craig Williams Pennsylvania.
I met with Lien at his campaign office in Rapid City yesterday where he showed me some of the pictures he took on the trip.
Several of those pictures are featured below because, as they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words." This is even more true of the oil issue in ANWR, since a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation is presented by opponents.
When pictures of ANWR are actually shown by the "mainstream" media, they often feature the southern area of ANWR, which is very different than the Coastal Plain area where drilling is desired. While the southern area is very beautiful with lots of trees and vegetation, once you cross the mountains, the terrain quickly becomes barren marsh.
For perspective, this map shows the total ANWR area, which is roughly the size of South Carolina. Out of that area, the Coastal Plain is only the top edge, next to the ocean. And out of that Coastal Plain area, only a total of 2,000 acres (of the 19 million acres of ANWR) would be allowed for oil drilling.
Here we see an arctic village from the air in the southern part of ANWR.
This one is one of several shots of the Coastal Plain from the air. Isn't it beautiful? Teeming with life in a fragile, carefully balanced ecosystem? Doesn't it make one thing of a thriving South American rain forest?
This is another shot of the Coastal Plain area.
This is an illustration of the Coastal Plains area which is being considered for drilling.
This is the Coastal Plains area from the air.
Here, Lien is on the ground and looking at the tundra of the Coastal Plains area. If I remember correctly, this is at the village of Kaktovic.
This photo shows caribou at the existing drilling operation at Prudhoe Bay where we've been bringing up oil since the 1970s. They appear to be at peace with the oil operation.
Here you see a couple of caribou resting beneath Lien's hotel at Prudhoe Bay. They seem unperturbed by the human presence. Notice the columns on which the buildings are elevated. Lien says that practically all the buildings around the Coastal Plain are like this. This architectural technique leaves an even smaller impression on the land and, obviously, allows even greater access to the land for wildlife.
This is the village of Kaktovic on the northern edge of the Coastal Plain, one of several stops for Lien.
Here Lien meets with Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.
This is a picture of Lien with his fellow U.S. House candidates who accompanied him on the trip.
Chris Lien speaking at a conference in Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin to the left.
The Coastal Plain from the air.
Here Lien and his party listen to the concerns of a man who objects to drilling in ANWR.
Lien says he supported drilling in ANWR before the trip, but wanted to see the area for himself and talk to the people who lived there.
The group of candidates didn't only hear from supporters of ANWR, but spoke with several people who were opposed to drilling in the area. Lien also made an effort to ask people on the street, at a picnic and other unscheduled stops what they thought of drilling for oil in ANWR.
Lien said that about 75 percent of the people he encountered were in support of drilling for oil there. "For many of them, it was a no-brainer," Lien said.
Yesterday Lien told me he is preparing a presentation of what he learned in Alaska and will send me a copy when it is completed. I plan to feature some of that information here.
In the meantime, you can see more pictures from Lien's trip at his campaign website by clicking on the Flickr "fr" button at the bottom.