#83 - ANWR, Middle east oil fields and the environment (Watt Thoughts)
The Congress is currently debating whether to do drilling for oil in ANWR. There is a strong group of environmentalists on one side arguing against the drilling and on the other side a large group of people advocating oil independence and to drill for the oil. What should we do?
ANWR was set aside as a refuge 20 years ago by Congress. However it was not just set aside as a wildlife refuge but also as a location to be drilled for oil in the future. At that time they were aware on environmental considerations as we had already celebrated Earth Day about 10 years, the EPA was about 10 years old and we had already fought the same battle on the Alaskan oil fields.
The environmentalists argue that we should do two things. One is increase the mileage ratings on all vehicles. We can do that, but many loopholes would have to be filled. How many environmentalists o you see that participate in traditional environmental activities such as camping hiking, canoeing that are driving small cars and not SUVs. I see many with the SUVs and pickups, which traditionally have not been subject to such stringent rules. They have voted with their feet against stronger ratings. Stronger ratings will work in long period, but what do we do for next 5 years? When mileage ratings were originally passed, business predicted doom and gloom for cars and labor an carmakers. It has not happened.
Secondly they say we should import from the Middle East. Now is that really a logical position for the environmentalists to take. Why do you think oil is cheaper from these countries? One reason is that there ar no environmental rules to follow there. Should we not also preserve the Sahara desert for future generations just as we want to preserve the Arctic? With no restrictions there, it is more likely an accident will occur. Look at the damage Saddam did when he set all those field on fire in 1991. Secondly we must ship it longer distances across the ocean when it comes from there. If we use our American crude, there is less shipping distance involved and it is monitored by much stricter rules.
Those advocating the drilling for oil anywhere and to also look at it of what are the risks and what changes will occur. In this case we are looking at a small piece of the land and it is no longer in pristine condition in that area anyway. They should also advocate ways to continue our growth, but to move to more environmental safe fuels. We need to not allow our economy to be dependent on ecologically unsound wells and a politically unstable region
Are we going to run out of oil soon? Looks doubtful unless we rule it all off-limits. I remember in the oil crisis in 1973-74 the projections were that we had less than 30 years of oil left in the world. Now projects are another 100 years, and that is after that 30 years. So can we trust when they say we will run out. Not really.
Congress should allow the drilling to occur as they had already planned, but make it clear that it is to be done as environmentally safe as possible. As we look at sites in the Rockies, we should consider whether they are really areas needing protecting pristine, or are they pristine anyway, and what are benefits. Secondly Congress should pass an energy plan that both continues to find new energy sources and also promotes conservation and use of clean fuels. A gradual rise in mileage ratings will be good. We should continue to set aside land as national Forests and also as national holdings for future exploration. National Forests are not there to preserve virgin forests but for us to show we are good stewards of the land in using in multiple ways including recreation, logging, reforestation, hunting, etc.
A longtime good steward of the land and an environmentalist before it was popular,
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