White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said yesterday that U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman had spoken in “confusion” on Sunday when she announced that Vice President Dick Cheney’s secretive energy task force would not recommend oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Fleischer went on to directly contradict Whitman, saying that the task force would call for the drilling to occur. Last month, Whitman told the world that President Bush would stand by his campaign promise to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions and that the Bush administration would engage in negotiations over the Kyoto treaty on climate change — only to have the president break the promise and take steps to withdraw from the treaty. In related news, 40 members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, wrote to Bush yesterday to ask him to give up on the idea of drilling in the refuge. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R), a big drilling fan, doesn’t think the president will be able to ram through a drilling plan this year.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.