Thursday, March 24, 2005

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

I know it doesn’t happen very often, but I want to talk politics. Last Wednesday, the Senate voted 51-49 to allow for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Before I talk a little bit about this vote, I don’t understand why there has been so little coverage and discussion about this. I know ANWR is not as exciting or dramatic as Terri Schiavo or the Michael Jackson trial. I also realize that just because the Senate approved the drilling, it’s not a done deal (I don’t know what has to happen, but I think the House has to vote). Anyway, this seems like a major issue that being somewhat ignored.

While I don’t call myself an environmentalist, I recycle when I can and I know (like everyone else) that it’s not good when an oil tanker crashes and the oil spills into the ocean. With that said, it seems like there are some things/places that people should just leave alone. That’s what I think about ANWR. It’s not an area where people are going to move and build condos. It’s good for certain types of habitat and wildlife, and is probably one of the few areas left that is virtually untouched by people. Why not keep it that way?

I know the answer for to this question is oil. We went to war against Iraq (the first time) for oil so this would be a much better fight, at least morally and ethically. The argument for drilling is this will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. There is a good argument against this by Stephen Haycox, a professor of history at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He points out that there is no guarantee that the oil will be sold in America. He writes that if a tanker-load of oil on the high seas can be purchased and routed to an American refinery more cheaply than a tanker-load from Alaska, especially if there is a ready purchaser at a good price in Asia for the Alaska tanker, the oil company will do what's best for them.

Would the new oil help lower the cost of gas? Doubtful.

The Senate (and decision-makers as a whole) should be spending more time working on alternative sources of fuel and conservation efforts. Start by closing the SUV loophole in the fuel efficiency requirements and that could save more oil than ANWR may produce. Check Dan's March 19th entry for a more articulate discussion about this topic.

If you made it this far, congratulations and thank you. I'll go back to discussing Kevin Pittsnogle and Spring Break Shark Attack tomorrow.

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