Alaska’s congressional delegation came out swinging against the latest version of a proposal that would ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, although the bill has little chance of passage. Full story published November 8th, 2007 in the Anchorage Daily News.
The legislation, introduced Wednesday night (Novermber 7th) by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), would designate the ANWR coastal plain as wilderness, effectively banning oil and gas exploration.
All three members of Alaska’s delegation condemned the bill. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young issued a joint statement vowing to defeat the proposed ban. “We take all attacks on Alaska’s ability to develop its natural resources seriously,” said Aaron Saunders, a spokesman for Stevens. “Particularly when it’s extreme environmentalists from out of state who don’t understand our ability to contribute to American’s energy independence.”
Here's the full statement, posted on Senator Ted Stevens' official website:
“With the price of oil approaching $100 per barrel and with our energy dependence on hostile foreign nations at a record high, now is not the time to cut our country off from the resources held in Alaska’s Coastal Plain. This area has the largest untapped domestic oil field in the United States and would provide our nation with a million barrels of oil per day for at least three decades. Instead of blocking resource development, Congress must increase our domestic production of energy.
“Alaska’s Delegation supports a comprehensive energy plan that includes conservation, increased efficiency standards, and greater renewable energy potential. But without increased production of traditional fossil fuels, like oil and natural gas, Americans will be even more dependent on unstable foreign energy sources.
“We will fight any attempt to deny development of our State’s resources, particularly the Coastal Plain. Alaska already contains vast lands designated as wilderness, including the eight million acres of ANWR south of the Coastal Plain. Wilderness areas in Alaska already exceed 58 million acres. More importantly, more than 192 million acres of Alaska are already protected in wilderness areas, national parks, national preserves, national forests, national wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers, state parks, state preserves, state critical habitat areas, and state marine parks. The total designated area is the equivalent of all the East Coast seaboard states from Maine to mid-Florida.
“ANWR is nearly 20 million acres. Energy production would be limited to 2,000 acres – 0.01 percent of the entire refuge. In addition, development poses no threat to wildlife. Anti-development advocates claim that the Prudhoe Bay oil fields have had serious impacts on wildlife. That is not true. After 30 years of development of oil fields at Prudhoe Bay and surrounding areas, wildlife have not been adversely impacted. Populations of caribou, grizzly bears, polar bears, arctic foxes, and musk ox have all remained stable or increased during oil exploration and development.
“Our Delegation intends to work with the State of Alaska to defeat this short-sighted proposal. Once again, we have the duty of educating the rest of the country about Alaska’s role in attaining the goal of energy independence and defending our State from attacks by Outside extreme environmentalists.”
But Lieberman (pictured above left, most likely getting instructions from Ariel Sharon), who also is the co-sponsor of bipartisan global warming legislation moving through the Senate, countered that “America’s strength is not in our oil reserves but in our reserves of innovation. The answer is not to drill in our national treasures but to increase our energy efficiency and find alternative and renewable sources of energy.”
It’s the ninth time Lieberman has sponsored or co-sponsored a federal ban on drilling in ANWR. The issue has been one of his legislative priorities since his 1987 Senate campaign. However, this issue appears stalemated at the moment. There's neither enough votes to open up ANWR, or to close it off permanently. But our Congressional delegation is to be commended for its quick and unequivocal response.
Commentary: Even with oil at $97 per barrel, Joe Lieberman can still easily pay his heating bills back in Connecticut. Not only does he have his rich Congressional salary and all the accompanying perks, but he's undoubtedly flush with lobbyist money, particularly AIPAC cash (in a March 12th, 2007 speech to AIPAC, he said "for me and many others, AIPAC is family..."). But what about his constituents? Not all of his constituents can afford to heat their homes with $97 per barrel oil. But Lieberman has long since forgotten what it is like to be among the ordinary lumpenmasses.
For more of the truth about ANWR, read my January 9th post about the top ten reasons to open ANWR for responsible development. Or visit the ANWR.org website for more information.