WILSONVILLE, OR: Oregon-based public affairs firm Pac/ West Communications is preparing its strategy for a targeted national campaign aiming to build support for oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The effort will likely focus on the current high cost of oil and assert that oil can be extracted from ANWR without significant environmental damage.
The agency nabbed a $3 million contract with the state of Alaska for the work. The governor recently signed an appropriation for the funds, allowing the work to move forward.
Paul Phillips, Pac/West's president and CEO, said he has been coordinating with Alaskan representatives in DC to determine how the campaign should progress. "At this point, it's research-based, [with] a number of phases," he said. "One, determining where the issue sits with the American people, with all the other discussion about energy floating around these days."
Phillips said the agency is also exploring "various opportunities within the congressional process, whether it be a budget resolution, stand-alone bill, [or] energy bill coming out of the House."
The Alaskan legislature has appropriated an added $750,000 for lobbying work, separate from Pac/West's campaign, Phillips said. Arctic Power, an ANWR-specific group supported by Alaskan energy and business interests, is handling lobbying.
After the agency's research is completed, Phillips said he hopes to be able to target "fairly tightly" the exact time frame and scope of the effort. He noted that $3 million is not enough money for a blanket national campaign.
He said the campaign will have "nothing to do with the [midterm] elections," and he expects it to be completed "well in advance" of November.
Alaska did not issue a formal RFP for the contract. Phillips said he got the appropriation based on his past work in Alaska.
"Because of the speed Congress was moving this spring, [the legislature] decided to move forward," he said. "Pac/West is... one of the very few firms that have undertaken these types of efforts successfully."