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To drill, or not to drill

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 8, 2002

The U.S. Senate is poised to decide whether or not to drill for oil under the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge. The House of Representatives has already said yes; polls indicate the people say yes; and a majority of U.S. Senators have indicated they too, would approve production - if they get a chance to vote on the question.

There are enough votes to pass the ANWR measure; there are not the 60 votes required to kill a filibuster, which Tom Daschle and the Senate Democrats have promised.

Daschle-Democrats and environmental extremists contend that drilling will "destroy" the pristine wilderness. What this really means, according to a study just released by the U.S. Geological Survey, is that the range for a herd of 125,000 Porcupine River caribou would be reduced from 19 million acres to 18, 998,000 acres. Should the herd get within earshot, they may also have to endure the sound of trucks and equipment operating on the 2,000-acre footprint of the oil operation.

Caribou that live 100 miles to the West, on the existing Alaska oil fields, have thrived during the years of oil production. There is every reason to believe that the ANWR caribou would benefit from man's presence, as have their western cousins.

For several years now, it has been known, but not publicly admitted by Democrats and environmental extremists, that oil exploration is safe on even environmentally sensitive lands. Bill Clinton's energy department said as much in a 1999 report.

The argument for drilling ANWR is based on the need to increase our self-reliance, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil. More than half of our oil is now imported, most from countries sympathetic to the terrorists responsible for the September 11 tragedy.

At any moment, these oil-rich nations could shut-off the valve, as they did in the 1970s. Gas prices skyrocketed. Long lines of cars awaited the chance to buy gas at any price, on odd or even numbered days that corresponded with their license numbers.

Of course, a repeat of this situation is far more acceptable to Daschle-Democrats and environmental extremists than possibly inconveniencing the caribou in ANWR.

If the Daschle-Democrats block ANWR oil, they are not only saying "we value caribou more than people," they are also saying:

  • We would rather continue giving Saddam Hussein $20 million a day so he can continue to develop weapons of mass destruction and foment terror;
  • We don't want Americans to have the more than a half-million jobs that would be created by the ANWR project;
  • We trust the Arab nations to keep the faucet open; and
  • We're going to have our way regardless of the expressed wishes of the Senate majority, the House of Representatives, and the majority of the American people.

Should the Senate fail to authorize ANWR production, it will, indeed, be a sad day for the Democratic leadership. Every Democratic Senator who faces election this year, will become a target. Should the oil situation worsen as the political situation worsens in the Middle East, a "no" vote on ANWR will be a badge of dishonor, will become a big red bulls-eye in the cross-hairs of every voter.

Our economic engine is fueled by oil, like it or not. It is stupendously stupid to allow that engine to be dependent upon the people who produce dozens of terrorist organizations hell-bent on destroying the United States.

Our national security begins at home. ANWR oil is American oil. We need it. We need all the energy we can muster from non-Arab sources, whether under ANWR, offshore, or under the gazillions of acres now set aside as wilderness. We simply must expand our domestic energy production - from every source possible.

It is not a question of hurting the environment; The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society produce oil from their lands. They know oil production can be safe. It is a question of national security. We are at war with terrorism. We cannot afford to lose.

America's war machine cannot be defeated by any nation on earth - unless, of course, it runs out of gas. The Daschle-democrats in the Senate seem content to let our military continue to fill its tanks at Saddam's gas station.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • The real threat to our energy supplies by Eric Daniels (January 14, 2002)
    Eric Daniels says that environmentalists, who cry that we can't produce enough oil, actually regard less production as morally imperative
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