Monday, December 19, 2005

Gale Norton and ANWR

Tuesday morning, when I was feeling kind of warm and fuzzy following the rational discussion of treatment of prisoners, C-SPAN ran the speech of Gale Norton at Heritage Foundation regarding oil drilling in ANWR. C-SPAN describes the event this way:

Secretary Norton spoke about U.S. energy policy and proposals to expand oil exploration and production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In her remarks she outlined the benefits of future oil drilling in meeting U.S. energy requirements in and increasingly tight global market. She also talked about the potential impact on oil prices and estimated size of the reserve.

Heritage described it this way:

Opening ANWR to limited drilling has been strongly advocated by the Bush Administration and those who recognize the necessity of moving toward genuine national energy independence. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has long believed that energy production and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive goals. Join us as the Secretary addresses the critical role the Department of the Interior plays in advancing a sound natural resources policy essential to achieving the security of our nation's energy supply.

The person introducing Gail Norton described drilling in ANWR as a "win-win situation." The government gets billions of dollars by selling drilling rights and we get the oil. What's missing from that analysis? The "negligible" environmental impact.

I understand when someone wants to present only one side of an issue. But I don't excuse deliberate deception. Norton says, "At peak production...the oil from ANWR would supply every drop of oil used by Florida for twenty-nine years, New York for thirty-four years, Illinois for forty-three years, California for sixteen years or New Hampshire for three-hundred and fifteen years. Catch the tiny "or" in there? By the way, why is Florida using more oil than New York? When asked later how long the oil from area 1002 would serve the entire country, Norton replied, that looking at it that way presents "a somewhat deceiving picture." She said that although it would supply the country's entire need for a only short time, it would contribute to the economy for decades. Surely she could do the math with the same figures used to calculate the state-by-state statistics. My understanding is that it would supply a fraction of a percent of US consumption for about ten years.

After emphasizing how cold the area is, Norton goes on to point out the it contains "no trees, no deep-water lakes and no mountain peaks." That apparently means it has no value except for the oil.

Norton goes on to describe the environmental protection measure that could be used in ANWR including ice roads and machinery with oversized tires. Hmm...Description of existing environmental on the North Slope

I realize whenever I talk about ANWR that it comes down to whether or not you value the land for it's own sake -- whether, in legal terms, it has "standing" or rights of its own. If it was a life and death struggle between the human race and the land, the human race would have to prove that it had done everything in its power to survive without damage to the land. Man, are we a long way from that.

No comments: