Senator Mike Gravel was interviewed on May 26, 2011 by Mary Anne Hamblen and Karen Brewster at his home in Burlingame, California. In this interview, Senator Gravel talks about how he got into Alaskan politics, what it was like working as a Senator just after Alaska got Statehood, and working with Senator Ted Stevens. He also talks about a few key issues he worked on while he was in office including the Trans-Alaska Pipeline bill, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and his efforts to open the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) for oil development. He talks about the pubic confrontations that he and Stevens had on the floor of the Senate, but mentions that outside of politics they were cordial to each other.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Senator Ted Stevens Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: May 26, 2011
Narrator(s): Senator Mike Gravel
Interviewer(s): Mary Anne Hamblen, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Personal background information
Coming to Alaska and getting involved in politics
Becoming a Senator right after Alaska's statehood
Working with Senator Stevens in the Senate
Trans-Alaska Pipeline bill
Amendment regarding the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline
Senator Stevens' relationship with Scoop Jackson
Effort to open the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA)
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA)
Senator Stevens' position on ANILCA
Public confrontations with Senator Stevens
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KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. This is Karen Brewster.
Today is May 26, 2011, and I'm here with Senator Mike Gravel at his home in Burlingame, California;
and also with me is Mary Anne Hamblen, and this is for the Senator Ted Stevens oral history project.
Thank you, Senator, for spending some time with us today.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Happy to do it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Thank you. Mary Anne, go ahead.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: All right. Well, let's start.
Senator, would you tell us a little bit about yourself, when and where you were born, your family and educational backgrounds.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.
My parents were French Canadians who came over in the '20's when there was quite a sizable migration because of the economic situation in Canada at the time.
I was educated as a -- in Catholic school, my family was Catholic.
And then after I left grade school, went to Assumption Prep in Worcester, Massachusetts,
and from there did one year college at Assumption College, one year at American International College.
Went into the service, this was during the Korean War.
I enlisted in hopes of getting to become an agent with the Counterintelligence Corps, and I did.
And after I had acquired that education, I went to Infantry OCS ;
and most of my class were sent off to Korea, and I had the good fortune of being sent to Germany as the Adjutant for the Communications Intelligence Service;
and then subsequent to that, to Paris where I was able to use my language skills.
And served in Paris, and then took my discharge there and sailed back to the United States.
Went on to finish my college degree at Columbia University, and from there, decided to go to Alaska to make my way politically.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what was your college degree in? What did you study?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Bachelors in Economics.
I have -- subsequent to that I'd taken quite a number of courses that would be the equivalent of a masters degree,
and then, of course, I have received four honorary degrees in political science and world affairs.
KAREN BREWSTER: And where are those from?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Let's see. One's from American International, one's from the Elms College, one is from Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts School.
That's -- what, that's three, and one at Assumption College, they gave me a doctorate degree.
I got it at the same time as Kenneth Galbreath got his degree.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: How did you come to Alaska? Tell us about your transfer to Alaska.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: I had been involved in politics since I was 15 years old working in other people's campaigns.
I was involved in politics when I was in Europe, in New York City, with Tammany Hall, so politics was very much in my blood in that regard.
And so when I decided that I wanted to go someplace and essentially put down my tap root, I had two possibilities.
I did research on the subject.
One was Alaska, which was not a state at the time, but was about to become a state; and the other was New Mexico.
I don't like warm weather, and so I chose Alaska over New Mexico and went to Alaska.
And the proverbial Alaska story, I was broke when I got there.
I got there on a Sunday afternoon, Sunday -- Monday morning I was working, and 12 years later I'm sitting in the United States Senate.
KAREN BREWSTER: So how did -- how did that transition work? How did you get to the Senate?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, when I first got to Alaska, I got a job in real estate, which gave me a lot of discretionary time to do campaigning and to get myself known.
And so I ran for the Territorial Legislature, and I lost out of Anchorage.
It was a field of, I think, seven or eight at the time.
And then I ran for the city council, and lost that race;
and then ran for the State Legislature, we had now become a state, and I was qualified to run,
and so I ran for the State Legislature and got elected in a field of six, I believe, and got reelected overwhelmingly.
And after I got reelected, I ran for Speaker of the House, became Speaker,
and for two years, '65, '66, I was speaker, made some very strong changes in the government.
Established the physical renovation, set up electronic voting, put --
acquired staff for various members and space, and so we really improved the level of governance in Alaska.
We also -- I was very ambitious, and so we had a good number of accomplishments during the time,
doubling the community college system, the University of Alaska.
Also the insurance code, education codes.
I authored a regional high school system so we could educate the Natives in Alaska.
So as a result of that, I ran for Congress in 1966, and I lost,
but then ran for the Senate in 1968 and, of course, won, and was sworn in, in January 1969,
and served for 12 years, two -- two terms.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: What was it like being a senator from Alaska during that time period?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: It was a very historic time period.
One, we had just become a state; two, oil had -- and we became a state because of the oil that was discovered on the Cook Inlet,
but also, oil had been discovered on the North Slope.
And so we now had the unusual situation of being the most important locale for the exploitation of oil in the United States.
So that brought the issue up of the Alaska Pipeline.
We had the awareness by the Native community about their rights, and so the first thing out of the chute when we got to Washington was the Native Claims Settlement Act.
And from that, the Alaska Pipeline, and from that the Alaska D-2 lands issue,
we had the Law of the Sea, which was an issue that I got involved with nationally,
and of course, I was a backer of the sea level canal in Panama, which essentially was an extension of the Alaska Pipeline.
So those -- secondly, also, during the '70's, this was the American Awakening as a result of Rachel Carson's book "The Silent Spring".
And what -- what that brought about was a bevy of legislation from -- from the time we got there in that whole decade.
Now, just before I was elected, we had the Environmental Protection Act, which was passed, but after we --
after I was sworn in and this new class that we had, clean air, clean water, the Superfund, you name it,
anything of an environmental nature was before us, and I'm very proud of the fact that I was either co-author or co-sponsor of all of the significant environmental legislation that took place in the decade of the '70s.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: So you and Stevens were in the Senate together during the struggle to pass ANCSA .
Can you talk about this period and how you worked together and --
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Yes. Well, first off, Ted and I knew each other when he was an attorney in Anchorage.
He was partners with Jack Roderick, and -- and so I had them do some legal work, real estate legal work for me when we knew each other.
We were very friendly, had a lot of mutual friends, went to a lot of parties together, and all of that.
When I ran for office, he similarly ran for office.
He did it before I did, he ran against Ernest Gruening and then lost, but then ran for the State Legislature.
And so when I was Speaker of the House in Juneau, he was in the Legislature.
He subsequently became the Majority Leader after I left, but -- so Ted and I knew each other.
And with respect to the Native Lands Claim legislation, it was a given that we would really work very harmonious together,
his staff and my staff, particularly Joe Rothstein, and -- my legislative assistant, he was my administrative assistant at the time,
but this was our number one project, and it was the most significant piece of legislation affecting Alaska,
and it was national in impact because the oil companies took a hand in helping the legislation get enacted.
And that's unusual because they would not -- if it -- what it meant for them was they were going to get clear title
because the lack of satisfaction of the claims left titles clouded,
and they needed clear title to do their exploitation, energy exploitation in Alaska.
So Ted and I worked very harmoniously during that period.
That was the first two years that we were there.
He had been appointed by Wally Hickel, and so he had to stand for election in 19 -- that would be --
let's see, that would be 1970, he stood for reelection for the first time to complete the term of Bob Bartlett.
At that time -- and I was never very partisan at all.
In fact, I didn't get involved in his campaign.
Unfortunately -- excuse me.
Unfortunately, he did get involved in my campaign in 1968.
He ran in the primary against Elmer Rasmuson, I ran against Ernest Gruening in the primary.
I won in the primary and he lost to Elmer Rasmuson.
Well, Elmer, obviously -- Elmer ran a very well heeled campaign since he was the wealthiest man in Alaska at the time.
And so he hired Ted Stevens and Bill Boardman since Boardman had served with me.
And Ted had served in the Legislature.
So they went around the state, really, somewhat excoriating my record as Speaker.
And so after I got elected and Ted was appointed -- now, there's some misunderstanding --
Ted was a Senior Senator because he got appointed just before Christmas and then was sworn in before I was sworn in.
And it was no big deal, he was older than I was anyway, and he had a longer history in government than I had.
So after we were in Washington, we started working together on the lands claims,
he wanted to get together more socially.
And this was one of my mistakes, shortcomings, that I didn't.
I pushed him away, I was still angry over the fact that he had campaigned against me when he didn't have to, and had distorted my record in the Legislature.
So when it was his term to run for office, I stayed out of his race.
I had no interest in making it difficult for him to get reelected.
I got along with him.
I felt that made a lot of -- it made good sense to have a Democrat and a Republican in the Senate, sort of covered both bases,
and the Senate was controlled by the Democrats.
However, he was very close to Senator Scoop Jackson, who was very instrumental in helping us get Statehood.
And, of course, I fell afoul of Scoop Jackson since I was not supportive of what I would call at the time the military industrial complex, which is still the case now.
And Scoop was probably the greatest advocate for arm -- American armaments in the world today -- at that time.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: Very interesting. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline bill,
can you talk about how that happened, what happened, in the context of working with Stevens.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: One of the elements that, again, on national issue it impacted,
the oil companies wanted to build the pipeline to bring the oil down from the North Slope.
Well, they were very cavalierish about how they could do it, they just bought all the pipe, they were getting ready to lay it with the Environmental Protection Act,
they were litigated and they were stalled, stalled for three -- three years.
And the pipe just stood there rusting away.
And so that was quite a dilemma for the delegation of Alaska, Stevens, myself.
And so what -- what happened was that under the existing law,
the right of way to build the pipeline was not wide enough to accommodate as large a pipe, a 4 foot pipe, which is what the Alaska Pipeline is.
So Scoop Jackson introduced an amendment in, I believe, '73,
an amendment to enlarge the right of way so that the pipeline could be built.
However, the pipeline was stuck in the courts and had been there for three years.
And of course, studies had been made to the tune of $300 million had been spent studying how to build the Alaska Pipeline.
Now, this delay was very fortuitous because the oil companies would have made fools of themselves.
It was by studying and trying to satisfy all of the minute details of how the pipeline would be built, how they would handle permafrost, all of that,
that they were able to satisfy all of the basic objections of the environmental community,
but the environmental community, motivated a good deal by the preservationist community, who didn't want any economic activity at all, continued the litigation.
I developed an amendment, very straightforward, that under the Environmental Protection Act,
the Congress had the right to authorize any undertaking that they saw fit.
And so the amendment essentially said that we've studied this, we know how to do it, and therefore, we authorize the Congress to go ahead and do it.
I was about to take a trip abroad, and so I asked Ted if he would introduce this amendment of mine,
and I suggested to him he may want to jump onboard because this is going to benefit Alaska, which he did.
And so he introduced the legislation in my absence, it had only my name and his name on it.
When I came back, Scoop Jackson, who opposed the amendment,
had told Ted to get off the amendment, which Ted did, and so Ted then got -- became in opposition to the amendment.
It was an interesting development that the oil companies, along with the Governor, who was a Democrat at the time, the Chamber of Commerce, the labor movement,
all of the forces in Alaska opposed my amendment.
And so one meeting, Ed Patent (phonetic), who was the head of Alyeska at the time, he came to my office with the Exxon lobbyist and another couple lobbyists,
and they sat on my couch and said, "Senator, you've got to withdraw your amendment."
And I says, "No, this is the only way we're going to get the pipeline."
He said, "Oh, no, Scoop Jackson has this very well in hand, and he's very senior to you" --
keep in mind I was a freshman at the time --
"he's very senior to you, and he's promised the oil companies he'll take care of this issue in a conference committee."
Well, a conference committee is a reconciling committee of legislation -- legislative differences between the House and the Senate, and it's in secret.
And when the conference report comes out, the legislation's been reconciled, and all you can do is vote up or down in either chamber.
Well, Scoop, who wanted to be president, was going to run for president, had to get the oil companies off his back, he made this promise that he would do this.
But there's no way Scoop Jackson would have honored that promise because he needed the environmental community nationally to support his candidacy for president.
And I pointed this out to them. I said, "You're fools if you think you can take this very significant environmental issue and think you're going to get it solved in a secret meeting in the Congress."
And so I told them that I would not withdraw and -- but I extracted a promise from their lobbyist.
I said, "If I can show you 25 senators that would vote for my amendment, would you now help me bring the amendment about?"
Well, lo and behold, from February to July, like I say, everybody, both House, Senate, everybody opposed what I was doing.
But I had an interesting ally.
The person who worked for Jackson on this committee, the Atomic Energy Committee, had put together a template showing the dependency that we had on foreign oil, particularly from the Arab world.
And it was -- it was a very dire situation.
And this was about six months before the Arab oil embargo, and he was pointing out to me how that could happen.
I suggested to him that he not tell Jackson that he had briefed me on this, but that he should go brief every other member of the Senate;
and that as a result of that briefing, call me and tell me what senator he had just briefed.
So then I went to that senator on a one on one basis privately asking that person to vote for my amendment to bring about the Alaska Pipeline,
and that I would trade any future vote that that person had that didn't involve moral turpitude in exchange for that vote.
And so slowly, one on one, I was able to put a list together of 25 senators to vote for the Alaska Pipeline.
I called in the lobbyist, showed him the list, I said, "Go check it out."
They did. I thought that they would turn around and then go lobby members of the Senate.
That's not what happened.
What happened was they went to the White House and pointed this out to the President,
and so the president charged Rogers Morton, who now is the Secretary of the Interior, to run the concept up the flagpole of an amendment by Congress to build the Alaska Pipeline.
My name wasn't mentioned, but that's what happened.
And the speech given in Baltimore really drew no negatives from the national community, economic community.
And so as a result, the President weighed in.
So up until July 4th, at that recess, Ted and a good member of the Senate was opposed to my amendment.
After July 4th, the White House had weighed in, and Ted had changed his mind, had pulled away from Scoop Jackson, and was now supporting the amendment at that point.
And we had a vote, I think, later in July, around July 17th, and it passed the Senate by one vote.
This was the only significant vote that Spiro Agnew, the Vice President, cast.
The vote was very interesting with a slight vignette, was that, obviously, I went to a lot of my friends to get them to support the pipeline,
but Alan Cranston from California, who was a very liberal senator, really could not do -- vote for this,
and so I extracted an agreement from him that when the roll call was called that he would not take the -- we had a little trolley that went over to the Capital,
that he would walk over to the Capital very slowly and fail to get there on time.
And so that's what happened.
He got over there, and we were -- we won by one vote.
I then got Senator Stevens to table my motion to reconsider it because if you could reconsider right then and there, you would lock it in and it can't be changed except by new legislation.
So I moved to reconsider, it was tabled, then we had the vote.
At that point, Ted Kennedy found Alan Cranston in the hallway and brought him back in, and so when the vote was taken, I believe it was -- it was a tie, and that's when Spiro Agnew broke the tie.
Now, there was another thing that happened that enhanced our efforts in the Senate.
And I think John Melcher, who was a Congressman from -- from the State of Montana,
was on the Interior Committee in the House.
He took the amendment, and I don't -- we may have met on the subject, I just don't remember, but he took my amendment and introduced it in the House.
That had a very big impact on the oil interest that not only was by amendment going through the Senate, it was going through the House.
It had not passed until we had passed it in the Senate, but then it passed overwhelmingly in the House after we passed it in the Senate.
That broke the back of the opposition to the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, and it's history that it really moved ahead with great speed after 1973.
That's the story of the Alaska Pipeline.
KAREN BREWSTER: You said at the beginning about what this amendment was, but can you explain a little bit about what it was and why it made -- why it was different than what other people were trying to do?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, there was no other effort made in the Congress other than Scoop Jackson's on -- except his leadership.
What the -- what was going on was that under the National Environmental Protection Act,
the environmental community and the preservation community had been litigating, they had it tied up in Federal Court issue after issue after issue.
And that was very significant to the -- to the benefit of building the pipeline correctly because every time they came up with an objection to what the oil companies were doing, the oil companies studied it and improved their design.
And so this was sort of a tit for tat that went on in the Federal Court system for three years.
Now, it's tied up in court, and so nothing's going to get built.
And so I -- then my -- my amendment essentially said that, look at, under the NEPA, the Congress has the power, if it chooses to, to authorize the construction of the Alaska Pipeline,
and so by amendment, causes the Congress to exercise this power in law to authorize the construction of the pipeline.
And with the passage of the amendment, both in the House and Senate, it -- it brought about the authorization to build the Alaska Pipeline.
Now, in retrospect, when I look at this, and what subsequently happened in Alaskan history is that had we not done it then,
and I thought that all we were doing was accelerating when it was going to be built,
but had -- but now when we look back at the elements of history, we see that had we not done it then, it probably would not have happened.
And the economic viability of Alaska would always be in question because the next issue that was up,
which was an issue that was lodged in the Native Claims Act and the Statehood Act,
and that was that we had to adjudicate the public lands in Alaska,
and it was a section of the Claims Act called D-2,
and it subsequently became known as Alaska -- ANILCA, Alaska National Interest Lands.
And so that issue was fought very hard by the environmental community and they won.
So had they won -- well, the fact that they won, that they were able to tie up the development of Alaska to a fare thee well.
So when you take the center part of Alaska and go from the Bering Straits to Canada,
you find that the only avenue for opening up or exploiting any of our resources was this right of way opening for the Alaska Pipeline.
Other than that, there was nothing north of the middle of Alaska that was exploitable except Native Claims Act lands.
KAREN BREWSTER: So with Congress having that authority to authorize the pipeline,
did that supersede all the environmental requirements, or they still had to abide by NEPA regulations?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: They still had to abide by all of the regulations that were put in place.
It didn't -- and that -- this was a legal confusion on the Senate Floor that lost the debates between Ted and a number of other legal senators that got it all screwed up.
It was very straightforward.
It said that we authorize the construction of the pipeline, all of the agreements, all of the requirements that were -- that were brought forward in the course of the judicial proceedings had to be abided by,
and it was very, very heavily monitored at the time during the construction.
So though we won, the environmental community had the upper hand.
There are two elements. The -- what, it took $9 billion to build the pipeline.
It was a joke that 1 billion went for the environmental people, 1 billion went for labor, and the rest was what the pipeline really cost.
KAREN BREWSTER: I thought you were going to say 1 billion was for bribes or something.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, that could be. That could be. There was a lot -- there was a lot -- well, everybody enriched themselves on the -- with the Alaska Pipeline.
It was the most significant economic occurrence in the history of the state.
I often joke with friends saying that, well, you know, Ted has served so many more years than I did, and really served with -- benefited Alaska,
and so brought unbelievable sums of money to the state, but in my heart of hearts, if somebody were -- some economics professor were to do a comparison as to who brought the most to the state,
I would venture that my act in bringing about the Alaska Pipeline was as significant, or maybe more because,
see, what Ted, with his position on the Appropriations Committee and subsequently becoming the chairman of it, which is very, very substantial,
was able to raid the American Treasury, which is what he did, and did it very successfully.
Well, compare that to raiding the energy question of the United States of America
and bringing that to Alaska, which means that we had 2 million barrels a day going through the pipeline for 25 years.
There's still around 5 , 6 , 700,000 barrels a day going through it, and the revenue that that brought to the state.
So that amount of money, that pile of money, measured against the pile of money that Ted was able to appropriate from the Treasury,
I think we got more money from the oil industry for the benefit of Alaska than was done from the American Treasury.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, it's interesting you mentioned Ted going along with Scoop Jackson,
first going along with you, and then Jackson, and kind of going back and forth. Can you talk about that?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, I understood Jackson's influence. He was one of the most powerful senators in the Senate, and Ted was very close to him.
Now, that's interesting, that's a Republican, Democrat.
Jackson was more opposed to me as a Democrat and was very favorable and found it favorable to lean in Ted's direction in order to try to damage me politically.
So I -- this did not surprise me that Jackson would be able to turn him around on the amendment.
And Ted was a -- was a club kind of guy. I wasn't, I was a maverick.
And so he would rely on the club that would take care of -- well, one of the heads of the club was Jackson, and so he sided with Jackson.
But when the President weighed in on this issue, then it became somewhat of a partisan issue from Nixon's point of view.
And so he had more influence on Ted than Jackson did.
And so, like I said, by right after the 4th of July recess, Ted came back to Washington and he was for our amendment, I quote.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it's interesting to think about that Stevens was against the pipeline. It sounds --
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: No, he wasn't against the pipeline, he was against my approach to getting the pipeline authorized.
He was originally for it because the amendment made sense.
It was sort of playing to the bleachers, if you -- if you want, but -- but it was -- for me, it was real.
I wasn't pulled off of it by any of the powers in Alaska. And all of the powers in Alaska sided with Jackson.
So to Ted's defense, he wasn't doing anything that the Governor -- the Democratic Governor of Alaska was doing, that's what Ted was doing was supporting Scoop Jackson.
I was alone. And by hanging in there, and this other good fortune of being able to trade on -- with senators one at a time.
Now, I did not make a one speech supporting the Alaska Pipeline on the Senate Floor.
Not one. I did everything in the background, and that's what brought it about.
So -- but what Ted was doing was what was being done in conventional wisdom of politics.
I was the one that was out of -- out of synch with the conventional wisdom, but my judgment and what I did made it happen.
It would not have happened under Scoop Jackson.
KAREN BREWSTER: So explain to me again a little bit like what was Jackson's approach to it? How did he --
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Jackson, he was chairman of the committee, one, he was a very powerful senator, and his approach was real simple.
He wanted to run for President.
This thing was dropped in his lap as committee chairman, and so he had the oil companies lobbying him to do something to get this thing going.
Well, he was also one of the authors of the Environmental Protection Act, so he had a stake in the environmental community and his credentials there,
so he obviously sided with the environmentalists, but privately was telling the oil companies and their lobbyists, well, we'll take care of the issue in a conference.
Well, what that meant was that somebody's going to have to push the pipeline to a vote in the House and Senate, and in a conference reconciling the legislation, then he would make sure that it -- that it got through.
Well, first off, nobody was pushing for this except myself with my amendment.
So it was really the attitude of the oil industry, their lobbyists or leaders,
they were just naive politically, they were stupid, really very, very stupid to buy into -- to not understand the dynamics of what a very large political issue this was for the environmental community at the time.
And the environmental community in the decade of the '70's was on an ascendancy of exercising their power.
So we'd have never seen the pipeline had it not been for this unusual occurrence.
So Jackson played it to the hilt, he thought he could beat me, and was just astounded that they had -- like I say, the count that I had we could beat him by five votes.
I lost four or five of those votes in the debate between attorneys on the Floor of the Senate while I was in the backroom trying to get more votes.
But the -- it's not surprising that sometimes attorneys will tie themselves into knots over this issue.
So, you know, Ted, in his heart of hearts, was doing what he thought was in the best interest of Alaska on the pipeline.
That it was not because of the machinations going on in Scoop Jackson's head that, you know, that's -- that's the way it is -- that's the way it came out.
We lucked out that I was right and the rest of conventional wisdom was wrong, and the rest is history.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: 1974, can you explain what happened with the effort to open the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska for oil development?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: To tell you the truth, right now, I can't recall entirely.
That happened after I left office where they were opening up for -- for oil exploitation.
It wasn't that big an issue as I recall. It was an issue, I do recall that -- which we called it PET 4, was very much in the forefront,
but I think that -- and now I'm just trying to remember back, I think the fact that the oil industry had a lot on its plate with the exploitation of the North Slope, Kuparuk, and other areas,
that they didn't weigh in all that heavily on its expansion.
They would have liked to have had -- what, ANWR opened up, but you see, at that time, you had the ANILCA legislation, the Alaska Lands legislation,
which was very much the environmental issue of that period of Alaskan history.
And so I'm sure that PET 4 got -- got whipped into that issue.
The environmentalists were very, very powerful, and with Jimmy Carter now President, it was just overwhelmingly.
So we could not get ANWR opened up.
I had to -- in the negotiations with the environmental community, I had really pressed them that you give us the 1.9 million acres in ANWR, and we'll give you 10 times that much in wilderness lands.
In fact, I had my eyes on wilderness lands in the PET 4, which were not wilderness lands, didn't have to be.
And so that's the trade I was trying to make, but it didn't come to pass, unfortunately.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I know there was something in opening up NPRA that had to do with protecting state's rights to develop the land versus opening it up that Stevens was involved -- had an opinion about.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, I think -- now, that that jogs my memory.
Had the PET 4 opened up, it would have been all drilling on federal lands, which then would have denied the state income.
And so Ted took the position that let's hold off on PET 4 because it will then put more attention on state lands.
That sounds logical, a logical political position that he would take, it's just that memory escapes me right now on this.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I find it interesting that in that time period he would have expressed that opinion about not developing on federal lands, and then he spent so much of his career fighting to open federal lands -- SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: ANWR. KAREN BREWSTER: -- in the Arctic Refuge.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, the -- keep in mind, now, it does make sense, because first off,
the oil industry probably had more than they could say grace over on the North Slope.
Secondly, the state would make more money if the exploitation took place on state lands.
So if Ted's view was to enlarge the amount of money, increase the amount of money going to state -- to the state so that it would be of benefit to the state,
then it made every -- it made sense for him to oppose it then, and then later on -- and later on, I'm sure I was no longer in office, but I'm sure he then supported opening up PET 4 at a later date, like 10, 15 years later,
but at the time, it made ample logic for him to do that.
Do you recall what date that is that the PET 4 -- KAREN BREWSTER: It was 1974 was --
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Okay. Well, then -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- there was some debate about it.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Okay. Well, then, no, this -- clearly there was no motivation by the oil industry to really bust its pick on getting that to happen.
KAREN BREWSTER: They were just starting up with Prudhoe then and -- SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: That's right. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, okay.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: It was the following year, the pipeline hadn't even been finished, and so this was a gratuitous effort made that really wasn't going to go anywhere at that point in time.
And I don't remember it because it didn't -- it wasn't that significant. Only -- only you archivists can get into these details.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it was a question to see whether you did remember it.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: No, I don't remember it. And -- and it wasn't that big a deal; otherwise, I'd remember it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Maybe we can go back to ANILCA.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: Well, I was -- what sides of the issues were you on, was Stevens on, and give us a little bit of the dynamics of that.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: The whole ANILCA deal was very interesting and very controversial, and was a source of great acrimony between Ted and myself.
What -- what had happened was that after the pipeline was authorized,
the -- the environmental community regrouped itself, and then focused all of their national efforts, I mean national efforts.
The Senator who led the battle in the Senate for ANILCA in addition to -- well, Ted didn't lead the battle, Ted eventually went along --
was Paul Tsongas from Massachusetts.
It was interesting that Paul, who was a good senator, was a senator for the most polluted harbor in the United States, which was Boston Harbor,
but he didn't find time to solve that environmental problem, he found time to work on solving the environmental problem for Alaska,
which was not nearly as severe or as damaging as what he had in Massachusetts.
Secondly, after he left the Senate, he went to a law firm who would then specialize in nuclear activity.
Now, one of the other areas that I was involved with back in 1969 was opposing Amchitka and the nuclear testing going on.
Ted -- and we'll have a segue back to that in a moment, I'll just stay with ANILCA at this point, but we'll come back to Amchitka.
So the environmental community really had -- had their -- their motivation and lined up their ducks to go ahead and bring about the passage of that legislation.
Now, Jimmy Carter was President, and so this -- with Cecil Andrus is at the Interior.
And so this became the biggest issue for the presidency, the administration, to enact ANILCA to protect Alaska lands.
So you had all the forces.
You had Mo Udall in the House leading the charge, you had Paul Tsongas in the Senate,
you had the President weighing in, and the Secretary of Interior weighing in,
so all of that put together really was quite a dynamic force.
I had shortly before that made a speech in Ketchikan where I indicated that we should study the possibility of having some areas of Southeast Alaska placed in wilderness.
Well, this was -- this caused a tidal wave to hit upon me.
When Jimmy Carter ran for President, I supported him; in fact, he came to Alaska and I campaigned with him.
I had one proviso, and that was that he could do anything he wanted to Alaska, he had his responsibilities, I had mine, but --
but I had to be informed before he did anything so that I could give my opinions and weigh in.
Well, when they decided to introduce legislation with respect to ANILCA, which, in my mind, locked up Alaska, I was never told ahead of time.
It was -- I was told at noon, and I was in Anchorage, Andrus was in Anchorage, he had a press conference that morning,
and told me on the phone that what he had just done, and I was incensed that they never consulted with me.
They consulted with Tsongas and with Mo Udall.
Now, this angered me and caused me to pay a little more attention than I might have.
And so in analyzing very closely what was going on in ANILCA,
it essentially was locking up the whole state in one or several regimes that you had to get the federal permission of the Congress in order to move forward with any exploitation at all.
Well, this seemed, in my mind, pretty severe.
I've -- I consider myself an environmentalist, but I think I'm rational about it, and that is that we're dealing with human beings, we have to have economic growth, we have to have economic sustenance, and in many respects,
that requires exploitation of the land and our resources.
But we don't need to do it to excess, we don't need to do it to damage our environment.
And the building of the Alaska Pipeline was a good example of that.
So lo and behold, the ANILCA legislation, here again, led by Scoop Jackson, because it was going through his committee;
and Ted, since I was taking a very hard line in wanting moderation,
Ted got involved in the negotiations, and so the legislation came to a head in --
let's see, that would be probably in '78.
And I was able to stop it from passage because it was at the end of the session.
And then we went back at it again, and here again, it got to the end of the Congress in 1980.
I filibustered it for three days alone, the only other senator that joined me was Strom Thurmond,
and eventually it rolled over my filibuster and passed it into law, and Ted had joined.
Now, keep in mind, the compromise had been you could lock up ANWR, you could lock up all these other areas, which I just thought was excessive,
and demonstrably so, and so Ted got close to Carter and so I just stayed out of the picture.
I did not have the stomach to get involved in the signing ceremonies or be involved in any part of it.
I just thought this was a tragic mistake.
What had been done by the lobbyists and environmentalists, they cut a deal with the Natives,
and this angered the Natives that I fought this program.
They cut a deal that the exploitation on Native lands would not be harmed at all.
They could do what they wanted.
They cut a deal with Southeast timber industry that they could continue -- continuing timbering, and that they would get an appropriation from the Congress of $40 million a year for roads into the forest.
This was a kind of a subsidy.
Well, I mentioned to the timber interests that, look at, you cut your deal, but I'll tell you, they'll eat your lunch within a decade.
And of course, that's exactly what happened.
Within a decade, all of that was reversed and there was no timbering at all in Southeast Alaska, as a result of putting in place the ANILCA legislation.
So those -- but -- but the Natives did benefit and they continue to benefit, but it caused a fissure in the culture of Alaska where the Natives have unlimited power to exploit their lands,
but the balance of the state does not have that advantage.
And that has caused a friction between the Native communities and the non-Native communities in Alaska.
And all of this because there was a rush to judgment because the environmental community, the preservationists had the power at the time, exercised it.
Again, it's the pendulum.
When you go too far one way and you go back the other way, you do as much damage when you do the other.
What we need is legislation which is moderate and deals with the problem and in a rational fashion from the center, not from the extreme.
That's essentially what happened to ANILCA.
And Ted spent the rest of his career trying to change the mistake that he made in letting ANWR get sucked into ANILCA.
Had Ted joined me in 1979, there's no way ANILCA would have passed.
There's no way that they -- with -- and of course, I made the case that, well, Jimmy Carter is going to lose, and Ronald Reagan will be there,
and we'll get a better -- a better adjudication of this issue.
Didn't -- didn't weigh in on anybody, they pushed it through.
And if Ted made a mistake in that regard, a tactical mistake, it was in caving in to -- to -- and hear again, Ted was conventional wisdom politician.
He was part of the club, and so once the club decided that we were going to get ANILCA passed, he went along with that.
I did not. And here again, the advantage of having a maverick was on display, but -- but a maverick with no power to bring it about.
I was very frustrated at the end of my second term.
I really didn't want to run for -- for re-election, and the only reason I ran was because I didn't have anyplace to go.
I did not enrich myself and had no place to go, so I ran for re-election, and I had hopes of getting reelected and then resigning my office,
in order to -- to be able to take over the AGSOC, the Alaska General Stock Ownership Corporation, which I had founded,
that was going to buy a piece of the Alaska Pipeline from BP, and that would have enriched the citizens on an individual basis in Alaska.
So that was a whole other direction that I was going into at the time.
KAREN BREWSTER: Back to the ANILCA issue, because it's been such a big part of Alaska's history, and you and Senator Stevens fought back and forth a lot over that and the details of that.
Can you talk about what his position was on that, or -- I mean, I don't think of Stevens as a supporter of ANILCA --
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Oh, no, there's no question. KAREN BREWSTER: -- the way you describe it.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: There's no question, he was.
He -- he didn't play the leadership role, a conspicuous leadership role that, let's say, Mo Udall did in the House, or that Scoop Jackson played, or Paul Tsongas played.
Initially, Ted was very moderate on the issue, trying to negotiate a moderate solution, but that wasn't to be had.
The environmental community was all powerful, and so there was no moderation.
So Ted, rather than joining with me in fighting it, capitulated to their extreme position.
The cost of that capitulation was ANWR, denying us the ability to do that, denying the ability to do any mineral exploitation north of the Alaska Range.
And so hereto, it was Ted's characteristic of being a club member in the Senate,
being a go-along kind of senator, and so when the forces had -- had amassed the power in the Senate that the club was going for this environmental legislation, he went along with them.
And so he didn't play a leadership role.
He tried to play a leadership role in moderating it early on, and was angry with me when,
after he thought he had fashioned some kind of a compromise, that I opposed it.
And he had -- he had weighed in and had a stake in it at that point in time in getting it passed.
And of course, that's very much a club attitude.
Once -- once you arrive at your compromise, then everybody's supposed to cave in and go along.
I didn't. I wasn't part of the club and I didn't think this was in Alaska's best interest,
and therefore, I exercised my personal judgment on Alaska's best interest, which the majority of Alaskans were very much for my position.
But the Natives and the timber industry really caused a great deal of confusion.
They were bought off, and -- and that left me somewhat in the lurch.
And as you know, unfortunately, Ted travelling around with the leaders of the timber industry in a private jet got into an airplane accident, and that's when his wife was killed.
And Ted and Motley were saved because they were sitting in the back of the plane.
So it was unfortunate.
And Ted was very angry with me over that, even made public statements that I had caused his wife's death.
It was just embarrassing. I think he was in shock, having been in the accident himself, and so I --
I was silent on the issue, and I fully understand his grief and -- and what impact it had on him mentally.
MARY ANNE HAMBLEN: Did that soften for him over the years, do you think?
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Yes, it did. After I left office, the only area where we had disagreement where I was angry over something,
when I left office, Ted had no way of knowing that I was exiting the political arena for good.
But I had been responsible for bringing about the federal buildings, since it was on my committee, in Fairbanks and in Anchorage.
And the chairman of the Public Works Committee wanted to name the federal buildings after me, Mike Gravel Federal building.
Ted opposed that.
And of course, I had a sense of irony when they named the airport after Ted and nobody was there to oppose that, that -- so it was -- it was a -- certainly a venal act on his part.
Probably what went through his mind was that, well, Gravel maybe will run again and run against me, and so we can't have his name on a building in Anchorage or Fairbanks,
and so I understand it, but it did raise a little bit of pique from my point of view because it was one of the major accomplishments of a physical nature that I was able to bring about in Alaska with both those buildings.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, some of Stevens's anger and animosity towards you came out in other ways on the Senate Floor, and there's newspaper reports about things between the two of you.
SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: Well, what had -- another area of great dispute was -- and this was -- this was in seventy -- '75, '76, the Law of the Sea.
I was very much of a globalist, and so I supported the Law of the Sea; in fact, I was the major leader in the Senate to bring about its enactment in the United States.
It didn't happen while I was in office, it happened in 1984, Elliott Richardson took over my task of leadership.
Ted -- and I think -- I'm not sure it was Ted or Warren Magnuson.
Magnuson was the Chairman of the Commerce Committee, and so they wanted to thwart the possibility of the Law of the Sea getting enacted in the United Nations.
In fact, I was nominated, sent by the Senate as the delegate to the United Nations during those deliberations in New York on the Law of the Sea.
And so what -- what -- what they did was a very clever tactic.
At the time in the world, the -- we -- the only thing we had, it was the 12 mile limit, that really was uncontested sovereign power of a nation 12 miles out to sea.
Except for one country, Uruguay -- I forget, Uruguay or Peru, at this point in time, I think it was Peru --
had taken 200 miles as their domain, a little small area in the Pacific, and they had taken 200 miles as their domain.
The only country that could do it. They obviously could not enforce it.
But after the Manhattan experiment, that was a -- Manhattan was a vessel chartered by the oil company to see if they could do the Northwest Passage.
But after that occurred, the Canadians took a 200 mile swath, asserted a 200 mile swath of environmental region.
And so Magnuson and Stevens introduced the Stevens -- the Magnuson-Stevens legislation asserting a 200 mile fishery zone around the United States.
That essentially gutted the Law of the Sea efforts in New York.
I opposed this saying that this would be a mistake,
that we should seek an international agreement on our fisheries, and that will be much more secure than just securing the 200 miles in question.
Well, as history would have it, here again, I feel today I was right.
The group that opposed me, and Stevens and I had debates on this on television, it was very acrimonious.
And, of course, here again, Stevens had Magnuson, one of the lions of the Senate,
I was really fighting an uphill battle, fighting for an international position, which was not really the most attractive position to have in Alaska.
And it really was this thing that hurt me -- hurt my getting reelected,
which was the small fishing communities in Alaska did not understand why I was opposed to the Magnuson 200 mile taking.
They thought that this would benefit them extensively.
They were wrong. Dead wrong.
But the largest national group that fought me was the East Coast and north to New England fishery industry.
I mean, they were just unmerciful in their attacks on me in the national press.
And of course, the more I was attacked in the press for what I was doing, the more Stevens within Alaska was lionized in the argumentation that took place.
So the conflict escalated between Stevens and I more in the media than it did with us on a personal basis.
In any of the quarrels that I had with Stevens, I never, never took it to a personal basis.
I liked Ted personally.
We had a friendship before either one of us were elected, and that friendship and cordiality maintained itself all the way to the end of his life.
And so with respect to the -- to the legislation,
I had predicted that what would happen, that the damage would be done beyond the 200 miles.
And that's exactly what happened.
The fisheries of the north loft and New England Grand Banks, they're all dead.
There's no more fishing there.
And -- and this was because they just ate their seed corn as they went along. And that's what I was trying to avoid.
Now, with respect to Alaska, similarly damaging.
It's fine, they were able to license factory boats off the coast of Alaska for pollock and deep sea fishing.
Well, who do you think had that economic interest?
It wasn't Alaskans.
No, Alaskans did maintain their salmon fleet, did maintain their halibut fleet, and they're -- they're beyond the 200 miles going off after crab and what have you,
but here, too, the prediction I made was that we would endanger our salmon fishery because those fish go beyond 200 miles and then come back.
And so they could have been taken on the high seas.
Fortunately, what happened after the passage of the legislation,
I went to -- with the ambassador, she was a roving ambassador in charge to renegotiate all the fisheries treaties that we had at the time, which had to be renegotiated because of the 200 mile.
She had asked if I would go to Japan, since I had opposed the legislation,
she asked that I would go -- go to Japan and speak to the Japanese fishing interest asking them to conform to the law and not try to punish us by fishing.
I did just that. And that was very successful, we did get new treaties, but we still lost control of the major fisheries of Alaska.