Former Sen. Ted Stevens on Thursday broke the public silence he has maintained since his election defeat in November, delivering a vintage pro-development speech to the Alaska Industry Support Alliance that steered clear of the issues that cost him his job.
Introduced to a standing ovation that lasted most of a minute, Stevens urged the business group to organize to fight "extreme environmentalists," whom he said would prevent Alaska from assuming its role in providing the world with energy and other resources.
He said Alaska still has huge potential to develop oil, gas and coal reserves. As for a gasline, he said the state wasted time and effort bickering over a route and in debating new taxation. In the meantime, other projects are coming to fruition elsewhere — often in places that created tax incentives.
The friendly crowd of oil-industry related businessmen and women interrupted his speech once with applause, then stood and cheered him for another minute when he finished his 20-minute address.
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Stevens, 85, the longest serving Republican senator, ran for re-election last year under the shadow of a long-running corruption investigation. A week before the election, he was found guilty by a jury in Washington, D.C., of failing to disclose gifts from a person who would have been one of the main figures in the room in earlier days — Bill Allen, the ex-chief executive of the state's once leading oil-field contractor, Veco Corp.
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