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Jewish World Review Nov. 12, 2001 /26 Mar-Cheshvan 5762

Don Feder

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Sierra Club Dems vs. energy security -- WHILE Democrats fiddle with airport security, in an attempt to create 28,000 new federal jobs, a fire rages at the intersection of energy policy and national security.

President George W. Bush is pleading with Senate Democrats to act on his energy bill, which passed the House on Aug. 2. But that legislation includes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"Pristine wilderness!" "Consider the caribou!" environmentalists cry, and Democrats dutifully bow their heads in prayer. "ANWR drillings will do nothing to enhance our national security at this point in time," Sen. John Kerry disingenuously maintains.

Addressing the annual dinner of the League of Conversation Voters last week, Kerry decried the "misplaced patriotism" that would allow ANWR desecration.

There is a "better definition of patriotism," Kerry intoned, that consists of "not creating a handful of short-term jobs polluting, but creating millions of jobs cleaning up the environment." Yes, and another Superfund boondoggle will certainly go a long way toward filling our tanks during the next oil crisis.

The United States burns 19 million barrels of oil a day, 25 percent of world consumption. Today, 53 percent of our oil is imported (versus 35 percent in 1970). That figure is expected to rise to 65 percent by 2030.

We are now so hooked on Middle East oil that Saudi Arabia practically has a veto over U.S. foreign policy. "The stark truth is that we're dependent on this country that directly or indirectly finances people who are a direct threat to you and me," says Edward L. Morse, a State Deptartment energy official under Ronald Reagan. Morse is referring to Saudi support for their fellow Wahhabi lunatics in Afghanistan.

There are 19 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bush's plan would allow drilling on 2,000 of those acres -- an area roughly the size of Dulles Airport.

The words "pristine wilderness" conjure up images of majestic old-growth forests. But the part of ANWR where the administration would allow drilling is among the bleakest, most inhospitable terrain on earth.

In the winters, nine months long, temperatures drop to minus 70 degrees below zero. The League should consider having its next dinner in this Shangri-La of ice, snow and caribou droppings -- say, in January.

Would oil extraction disturb the caribou at play? The same frantic concerns were voiced 20 years ago, when drilling began in Prudhoe Bay. Since then, the Artic caribou herd has grown from 3,000 to 27,500.

Mid-range estimates put ANWR oil reserves at the equivalent of 10 years of imports from the Persian Gulf. And Kerry thinks ANWR drilling bears no relationship to national security. Unlike the Democratic Party, tanks and planes don't run on campaign contributions from the environmentalist PACs.

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham reminds us, "Energy security is not the same thing as energy independence." That America will never again be self-sufficient doesn't mean that we shouldn't do whatever it takes to lessen our dependence on foreign sources, especially from the volatile Middle East.

Besides domestic energy development, Abraham urges us to expedite the licensing of nuclear power plants (one pound of uranium yields as much energy as 1,200 gallons of oil) and build 1,300 to 1,900 new power plants of all kinds, to deal with an anticipated 45 percent increase in demand for electricity over the next 20 years.

It's also imperative to upgrade our network of transmission lines, pipelines and refineries. And we must aid friendly nations in developing their resources -- from the proposed Cameroon pipeline (allowing Chad to export 250,000 barrels of oil a day) to support for construction of a pipeline to bring Caspian oil to the West.

But all of that requires a commitment to the national interest over special interests. Our civilization, no less than our military, runs on energy -- not on the gasses emitted at environmentalist soirees.

Unlike our economy, the Democratic Party is fueled by the campaign funds and political support of the global-warming gang. Given this reality, there probably isn't much we can do to get Senate Democrats to approve ANWR drilling, short of offering to make the caribou federal workers.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate