Skip

Senate blocks attempt to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
April 19, 2002 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Senate blocks attempt to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. The vote was, it sounds, an attempt to end a democrat-led filibuster that has kept the proposed energy bill on the Senate floor for five weeks.
posted by internetgeniuses (33 comments total)

 
I'm doubly happy about this because a local Republican senator, Mike DeWine, was one of seven Republicans who helped block the attempt. And, not that it swayed his opinion, I wrote him urging to do the same last summer. Stuff like this gives me hope that someone's listening, after all.
posted by internetgeniuses at 6:22 AM on April 19, 2002


On the contrary, the fact that Bush made ANWR drilling the centerpiece of his energy plan gives me no hope for the future. The oil we would gain is insignificant, so it seams money is the only motivator. Meanwhile, Bush has squashed plans for better fuel efficiency and promoting alternative-powered vehicles.
posted by fleener at 7:06 AM on April 19, 2002


Good point, fleener. The "reduced standards" measure that passed a few weeks/months ago sure looks silly now.

That's the joy of being progressive -- you see how stupid it looks while it's happening, rather than relying on hindsight.
posted by jragon at 7:19 AM on April 19, 2002


jragon, nice. The thing that irks me is language that was added to this bill would send all of the oil to Israel. Go see tamim's info and links from another thread. Dead on. Furthermore, I am glad Dems are finally getting a spine. I was worried when we had a one-party system for awhile [some say we still do, but thats for another thread].
posted by plemeljr at 7:40 AM on April 19, 2002


It's obviously very easy to be pessimistic. Sure, I could still be grousing about Congress not passing a bill that would've increased the CAFE standards for new vehicles. But, a victory is a victory. The issue of drilling in the Wildlife Refuge is closed, for the time being. And for that, I'm happy.

As long as Bush in the White House, I'll take what I can get.
posted by internetgeniuses at 7:53 AM on April 19, 2002


please keep in mind that this administration has been "fast-tracking seismic exploration activity" on other public lands in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
posted by Dean King at 8:14 AM on April 19, 2002


This isn't over yet. They still have to take this bill to conference committee, though the chances are slim that anything will change there. The Democrats just pissed off a lot of Alaskans and union people, though, including the Teamsters, so this just makes it even more likely that the GOP retakes the Senate (and gains in the House) come November. We can wait a year for ANWR.
posted by aaron at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2002


"No! ANWR is peaceful. We have no weapons. You can't possibly..."
posted by kliuless at 9:09 AM on April 19, 2002


So when gas/oil/fuel prices go up this summer, are any of you ANWR supporters going to say, "This is the price of a clean environment!" or are you going to blame the Republicans/GWB and big oil? Please answer and we'll bookmark this thread for followup at a later date.
posted by stormy at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2002


I'll blame our utter and anachronistic dependence on fossil fuels, and the financial interests of the energy industry that keep us sucking that particular tit.
posted by dong_resin at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2002


Stormy,

There is very, very little connection between ANWR and higher gas prices. If you do your research, you'll find that several companies have already conducted their own tests at ANWR in the past and guess what? They decided there was too little oil there to justify the expense of establishing a drilling operation.

The reality is, big oil doesn't want to drill in ANWR. They're just going along w/the Bush Admin because you can't bit the hand that feeds you, dig it?
posted by preguicoso at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2002


I had to laugh when they added the Israel clause. If you interpret the ANWR drilling issue as a deliberate political F.U. (I read this POV in slate a while back) then the "All our ANWR oil belong to Israel" clause was like a adding a second hand to the bird flipping.

Both issues have nothing to do with reality and everything to do with spin. The projections show that the potential oil from ANWR is marginal and more important not economical. The same can be said for Israel's oil demands even though those tanks and bulldozers probably need a lot.

I can't imagine what political purpose these gestures are serving. Sure the radical right is filled with glee but they were already pro-Bush and not going anywhere. If anything this kind of machismo politics will push the moderates away from the Republicans.

If anybody has a theory about how this is smart even from a realpolitik right-wing perspective I would like to hear it because I can't figure out any reasonable motive. All I can see is peevishness.
posted by srboisvert at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2002


So when gas/oil/fuel prices go up this summer, are any of you ANWR supporters going to say, "This is the price of a clean environment!"

A premise based entirely upon the fiction that the oil underneath ANWR would lower gas prices one cent.

Here's a piece by Gregg Easterbrook in TNR illustrating why the problem is not one of lack of exploration or production, but of refining capacity.

No form of primary energy stock is in short supply, nationally or globally, which is why prices are generally low. The international coal market is glutted. Twice in 2001, OPEC has cut production in response to a mild global surplus of crude. Yes, pump prices have been rising lately, but this results mainly from the fact that refinery capacity has been straining to keep up with the SUV craze, not from lack of oil to refine. California's rolling blackouts are the products of a spectacularly wrongheaded deregulation scheme, not an underlying shortage.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:22 AM on April 19, 2002


Found a pretty funny animation (Flash) regarding the politicizing of ANWR drilling (from Slate.com)
posted by kokogiak at 10:32 AM on April 19, 2002


preguicoso - I don't know what you're talking about. British Petroleum, Arco, Exxon and Chevron all want to drill there (Do you think they're going to do this at a loss to keep the administration happy?). As far as too little oil, I'll quote Senator Murkowski:

"Some express concern that the Arctic reserve would only fuel America's energy needs for just six months. First, that assumes that all other sources of oil dry up overnight -- an impossibility. Second, it ignores the current estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey that there is an excellent chance that the reserve contains 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil, five times more than some suggest. Such a find would represent all the oil we currently import from Saudi Arabia for 30 years!"

I see no reason not to open up the 2000 acres of barren wasteland that is dark 50% of the year and keeps the caribou away with its -50 below weather. But that's just my opinion.

I wouldn't suggest that it would lower prices, but it does play into rising prices. If the US could compete with foreign oil, I believe that we could keep prices from rising. Oh, and I totally agree with refining capacity - again, why build new refineries when we can be at the mercy of foreign governments?
posted by stormy at 10:32 AM on April 19, 2002


Oh, and here's a great article. Tounge-in-cheek? Yes. Filled with a lot of real facts? Yes. Be sure to check out the pictures and/or video footage mentioned in the article. It shows you what the proposed drilling site really looks like. It's not the pretty stuff they show you on the nightly news.
posted by stormy at 10:34 AM on April 19, 2002


From Ann Coultier's Great Article linked to by stormy:

Caribou... enthusiastically support drilling.

...Caribou frolic and play by the pipeline.


I think she's progressed from crack to magic mushrooms.
posted by signal at 10:46 AM on April 19, 2002


Stormy,

The U.S-backed coup in Venezuela might have had an effect on oil prices - if we hadn't blown it!

As far as ANWR, most reports predict the reserve could power the U.S., at most, for 2 years.

And please, no more Ann Coultier.
posted by preguicoso at 11:07 AM on April 19, 2002


Not really, signal -- Ann Coultier has it right, which is distressing enough in itself. Let's hope she doesn't make a habit of this.

But, ANWR is a wasteland, and the area to be drilled is tiny. The amount of oil there is subject to debate, but the Alaskan oil fields also were under-reported (claimed to be insignificant, and not cost-effective, just like ANWR), but they are a major field.

The problem is, as we have noted, that we do not have refinery capacity, and the cost of building a refinery makes it unlikely to happen in the near term (just the impact statements would take years).
posted by dwivian at 11:12 AM on April 19, 2002


I'll blame our utter and anachronistic dependence on fossil fuels

And your plan for bringing an immediate end to said dependence is...? If it's so anachronistic, we must be intentionally ignoring some simple, cheap, instanteous solution!
posted by aaron at 11:15 AM on April 19, 2002


Ann Coulter was grown in a GOP vat somewhere. Her rhetorical style is akin to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a pet store.

I see no reason not to open up the 2000 acres of barren wasteland that is dark 50% of the year and keeps the caribou away with its -50 below weather.

This is classic stuff borrowed right from Coulter, and of course it's horseshit, but sounds good to anyone who hasn't actually been to Alaska. "Dark half the year" applies to a whole lot of Alaska, and "below 50" weather is in itself neither interesting nor a detriment to life, caribou, Eskimo or otherwise (I experienced it myself). As for the "barren wasteland" epithet, this phrase could be applied as well to the Petrified Forest or the Mojave Desert, but it still doesn't add up to an argument that any of these places cry out for oil drilling to improve their impoverished aesthetics. There may be an argument for drilling the ANWR, but none of these are it. These are simply obfuscatory parlor tricks.
posted by Skot at 11:18 AM on April 19, 2002


Few things damage an argument faster than a Coulter link.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2002


While I generally was opposed to the drilling, and salute my senator Gordon Smith as being on of the Republicans to vote counter to his party on this issue, I am distressed that there has been a lot of verbiage from the anti-drilling forces that has been rhetorically equivalent to Coulter.

If drilling would have (or still could) take place, it would not be the end of the world, although there is value in keeping a pristine area in as untouched condition as possible.

Fewer of these would more helpful than more drilling.
posted by Danf at 11:55 AM on April 19, 2002


Few things damage an argument faster than a Coulter link.
yeah, as long as folks are supporting their arguments with links to uexpress.com, I'll rebut with points one, two, and three.
posted by Dean King at 12:14 PM on April 19, 2002


ANWR is a wasteland

It is far from a wasteland. There is tons of life up there. Just because it doesn't look like your front lawn does not make it a wasteland.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:27 PM on April 19, 2002


Actually if you want independence from the mideast-you should oppose drilling in ANWR-as long as we depend on oil we depend on the mideast-only when oil is scarce and prices rise long term will the market forces be there to make alternative fuels, higher CAFE, etc. possible.-it's capitalism 101-
so keep America free-no drilling in ANWR!
posted by quercus at 12:57 PM on April 19, 2002


srboisvert: If anybody has a theory about how this is smart even from a realpolitik right-wing perspective I would like to hear it because I can't figure out any reasonable motive.


Oil services companies (think Halliburton) will make money even if there turns out to be very little oil there.
posted by electro at 1:22 PM on April 19, 2002


fff: I've seen ANWR. It's a wasteland, on the coastal plain. That doesn't make it a desert, or devoid of life, as a whole. But, it is not the teeming nature preserves that people think it is, either. (wasteland: barren, uncultivated land that is barely hospitable.)

The problem we have is that people are looking at the areas of ANWR designated as a Wilderness Area, or the lower Wilderness Refuge, and think that's where the drilling will take place. It's not. The drilling is destined for the 1002 area (around the Kaktovit Inupiat Corporation lands).

The area impacted will have nearly no impact, except to have a lot of oil removed from miles below the surface.

However, I've got to agree with quercus -- the answer is not drilling, but not needing the oil at all. That's the path to take, rather than shore up a rapidly failing fuel pipeline system.
posted by dwivian at 2:05 PM on April 19, 2002


Just because the land isn't inhabited or farmed does not make it a waste. It's a mindset thing: if you're a rape-the-earth sort, then I guess you'd have to view it as a wasteland; if you're a gaia sort, it isn't a wasteland at all.

But, then, I'm a backpacker and spend lots of my time in alpine territory, which is pretty much inhospitable, uncultivated, and can be pretty barren. I find it beautiful, peaceful, and interesting.

[shrug]
posted by five fresh fish at 5:22 PM on April 19, 2002


As far as ANWR, most reports predict the reserve could power the U.S., at most, for 2 years.

So if it was used for 10% of the U.S. need, it would provide for at least 20 years.
posted by HTuttle at 7:25 PM on April 19, 2002


or we could reduce our need by 10% and forget about it.
posted by Dean King at 9:57 PM on April 19, 2002


Dude, all you need is a Make It Better Button!
posted by owillis at 10:07 PM on April 19, 2002


Lets get our numbers straight here.

NPR:

• Turning oil buried in ANWR into gas at the pump would take 10 years.

• Even at its peak in 2070, the refuge would produce less than 2 percent of the U.S.'s energy needs.

That's right, 10 years before it even gets into your greedy little hands. Before its peak in 2070 it would be delivering less than 2% if the US's current energy needs.

Talk about your dirty politics, the Republicans added in the Israeli oil to lube up Lierbermann. I'm glad this part of Bush's energy plan won't be going far, now conservatives will have to take fuel economy and alternative energy sources slightly more seriously than the current mantra of, "efficient cars are dangerous cars!"
posted by skallas at 10:26 PM on April 19, 2002


« Older Steal Your Face   |   Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post