Jewish World Review April 15, 2002 / 4 Iyar, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Drill Alaska -- for the children
NOW THAT Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has
threatened to cut oil exports for 30 days to protest
Israel's military presence in Palestinian territories,
the U.S. Senate has urgent reason to vote in favor
of drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife
It's a "national security imperative," Chuck Brooks,
of the American Jewish Council, told Reuters news
service as the reason his group switched its position
and now supports drilling in ANWR. More
domestic oil means greater American energy
Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, added that since
Hussein helps pay Palestinian suicide bombers
$25,000 each, "Each time an American goes to the
gas pump, he is funding indirectly the suicide
bombers." While the exact amount of oil in ANWR
is not known, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
said that ANWR production "could replace more
than 35 years of Iraqi oil imports."
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., told the Washington
Times, "If the events of today don't sway people,
they never will be swayed." She opposes Senate
Majority Leader Tom Daschle's efforts to kill the
measure -- which the House had the good sense to
pass in August -- most likely by using Senate rules
to keep it from a floor vote.
Besides, the old reasons to oppose drilling in
ANWR don't work.
Tree-huggers invoke ANWR's caribou as a reason
not to drill on what they call "America's Serengeti"
-- a phrase that fits ANWR primarily because most
Americans are as unlikely to visit ANWR as they
are to visit the African plains.
Enviros point to a March study by the U.S.
Geological Survey that found "oil development will
most likely result in restricting the location of
concentrated calving areas, calving sites and annual
calving grounds." The New York Times reported
that the study undercut President Bush's case for
drilling in ANWR.
There are two things you should know about that
report. First, it wasn't as damaging as some
reported it to be. As the Washington Post noted,
the report "argued that the effects of drilling could
be minimal if conducted in a sensitive manner over a
limited area. Two of its five scenarios for caribou
showed negligible effects."
What's more, the study was based on what USGS
Director Charles G. Groat called "five different
fictional development scenarios." Because none of
those scenarios reflected what the House passed,
Groat -- a Clinton appointee -- called for a study
on how the House scenario would affect caribou,
based on existing data.
Partisans dismissed the new study as an effort to
rewrite the scientific data to help Bush. Easy for
them to say -- because ignored the fact that the
other scenarios were, as Groat wrote, fictional.
Oh, but the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is so
I'm sure it is -- and so most of its 19 million acres
would remain if the Senate passed an amendment
similar to the House measure. (The House calls for
development on no more than 2,000 acres.)
Besides, Americans who truly care about the planet
ought to prefer highly regulated drilling in Alaska to
under-regulated drilling in foreign lands.
A recent Senate vote -- that passed 62-38 -- not to
raise car fuel- efficiency standards means that
Senate Dems failed to curb U.S. oil demand. If the
Senate won't curb demand, it should at least boost
After all, didn't Daschle say, "Americans need --
and deserve -- an energy plan that truly moves us
toward energy independence.'
But politics trump logic. Some GOP staffers believe
that the Senate's lack of spine on fuel efficiency
makes it harder for Democrats to vote for ANWR
drilling. After all, supporting ANWR drilling would
require casting a second vote against enviros.
The national interest, however, ought to prompt
senators to do what's right.
If the Senate votes to drill in ANWR, that vote
would send a chill through the oil-producing world.
A pro-drilling vote would undermine Hussein with
the leaders of oil-rich Muslim countries. The Saudis
wouldn't be so brazen in their tolerance of terrorism.
And that ain't
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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