Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>...Unless you happen to be Arctic wildlife</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

...Unless you happen to be Arctic wildlife

Senate votes to open Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling

It looks like we may finally lose America’s last untouched wilderness to greed… uh, I mean “national security”. That’s the argument used by proponents of oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which was approved by the Senate today as a part of their proposal for next year’s budget. By including the provision in the budget, well drilling in the refuge will be immune from a filibuster by opponents.

It takes a 60% favorable vote to break a filibuster. Today’s vote passed 51 – 49, with Democrats and moderate Republicans voting against it. Bush will no doubt consider this a “will of the people” mandate.

Bush has called tapping the reserve's oil a critical part of the nation's energy security and a way to reduce America's reliance on imported oil, which account for more than half of the 20 million barrels of crude use daily.

It's "a way to get some additional reserves here at home on the books," Bush said Wednesday.

Not so fast, George. It may go “on the books” if you use Enron accounting methods, but in the real world, it won’t alleviate rising oil prices or tight supplies, even though those issued undoubtedly affected how legislators voted. Even according to drilling proponents, we won’t see the oil from this region for at least another decade.

Don’t worry, though, damage to the ecosystem can begin right away. Although drilling proponents argue that “only” 2000 acres will be devastated, that doesn’t include the infrastructure necessary to support drilling operations, such as pipelines, runways, roads, and all of the aircraft and trucks that will use the infrastructure.

ANWR Section 1002 - reserved for oil and gas exploration. Posted by Hello

ANWR, which was deemed protected land in 1960, is currently about the size of South Carolina. In 1980, when oil supplies were also a hot button like today, lawmakers sliced out 1.5 million acres for future oil and gas exploration if it was approved by Congress. The oil industry has been drooling over this region for decades, but it wasn’t until our “new and improved” government came into power that the stage is set for such large scale ecological rape (for moral reasons, obviously).

Of course, this still has to get by the House, which doesn’t have this provision in their budget bill. So it ain’t etched in stone yet, but given the climate and the rhetoric involved, we can probably kiss a good portion of our wilderness goodbye.


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