- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2001

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa says he's hopeful of persuading some Democrats to support President Bush's plan to drill for oil in an Alaskan wildlife refuge and expects the plan to pass the Senate, as it did the House.
"We've got to turn people around," Mr. Hoffa said on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," which aired yesterday.
"You know, they said we couldn't do this in the House, and we were able to do it. We think we can do it in the Senate," he said.
Later in the interview, Mr. Hoffa said, "We think we've already got [drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] — we think ANWR is done."
Democrats provided the margin of victory Aug. 1, when the House, by a vote of 223-206, approved drilling on no more than 2,000 acres of the 1.5 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Teamsters and other labor unions, who say the drilling will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, were credited with changing the minds of at least a dozen Democrats who usually side with environmentalists.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, predicts his chamber will defeat the president's energy bill if it includes the ANWR drilling proposal.
But Mr. Hoffa is not deterred. He told CNN he plans to start his lobbying efforts in the Senate with Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.
Mr. Hoffa says he will try to persuade Mr. Lieberman, a longtime friend of the Teamsters, not to carry through with his threat to block the drilling measure by filibuster when it comes up in the Senate.
I'll talk to Joe Lieberman on this," the union official told CNN. Two other influential Senate Democrats — John Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts — have also threatened filibusters.
In the cable network interview, Mr. Hoffa denied that his union's support for ANWR drilling is hurting its relations with Democrats. He also denied assertions by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, that the Teamsters is a "beachhead" of Republican efforts to win some support from the labor movement.
Mr. Hoffa said the Teamsters remain firmly opposed to President Bush's bid to allow Mexican trucks to have unlimited access to U.S. roads effective Jan. 1, 2002, as called for in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Senate and the Teamsters oppose such action until it can be shown the trucks meet safety standards. Mexican trucks are now restricted to an area 20 miles north of the U.S. border.
"I think that President Bush is probably very upset with the Teamsters, because he wanted to present this as something done by him for President [Vicente] Fox of Mexico, when he comes to visit in September," Mr. Hoffa said.

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