Jewish World Review March 28, 2003 / 26 Adar II, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
Drill Alaska --- for the children
Where do the 52 U.S. senators who voted last
week against drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge think oil comes from?
Gas stations? Arab countries or tacky American
backwaters like Bakersfield and Texas, where there
are more pickups than hot tubs?
Places where there are no flowers?
Flowers were a big theme last week. Sen. Barbara
Boxer stood in front of a photograph of refuge
wildflowers to champion her measure to kill a budget
item authorizing drilling in ANWR. I guess there
should be no drilling near flowers.
"We don't think it makes sense. There are already so
many other places in Alaska that are open to drilling.
They don't need to drill in a wildlife refuge," Boxer
OK, except ANWR is where the oil is.
Except that legislation would allow development only
on some 2,000 acres of the 19 million acre reserve.
(Not to mention that work would occur in the winter
when it's too cold for flowers anyway.)
Besides, as Interior Secretary Gale Norton said to
the House Committee on Resources last month,
rules for developing ANWR would be strict and
should minimize the impact on wildlife.
Drilling outside of the United States isn't necessarily
scrutinized as carefully. "One might ask what
environmental protections are used in other countries
on which we rely for 57 percent of our oil," Norton
Where should companies drill for oil? I asked Eric
Antebi of the Sierra Club.
He answered, "Right now we already have ongoing
drilling projects in Alaska,
in our Gulf of Mexico, and we're not saying we should
be dismantling those."
Well, that's big. It tells you that wherever oil is
discovered, the enviros will stand against extracting
It tells you that they'll always find a reason to oppose
extracting new oil.
Antebi explained that better fuel regulations could
save as much oil as can be pumped from ANWR.
Boxer suggested that by changing the fuel-economy
standards of SUVs to 35 miles per gallon by 2013,
America could reduce its dependence on foreign oil
by 43 percent.
I agree. Car manufacturers could and should improve
fuel-efficiency for all cars. As I've written before,
Washington should raise fuel-efficiency standards, at
least so that SUVs have to match the average
standard for sedans -- 27.5 mpg.
But 35 miles per gallon? That's a Ford Focus.
Why not write a law saying everyone has to be nice
to each other? Or that there should be no oil drilling
near flowers? Or that SUVs should get 35 mpg and
cost the same as they do now? If laws were magic
wands, each law would make the world a better
Meanwhile, in the real world, America is at war.
America's dependence on foreign oil skews U.S.
relations with dubious allies. It tilts the global balance
While Boxer dismisses ANWR because it likely may
take 10 years for its oil to hit the pumps, in 10 years
America may need that oil.
Fortunately, there are still some realists in
Washington. They are talking quietly about a
compromise that would include a rise in
fuel-efficiency standards and drilling in ANWR. Each
side gives up something. Liberals would sacrifice a
part of a wildlife reserve for greater fuel efficiency.
Conservatives would surrender their view that SUVs
are inviolate in order to expand the nation's domestic
It's not fantasy. It's an adult, realistic compromise.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate