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Alaskan drilling a bad move by Senate

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted to allow a plan that opens up a remote wildlife refuge in the northern state of Alaska to oil drilling, 51-49, a vote with possibly terrible consequences to our energy policy and environment.

In a speech Tuesday in Ohio, President Bush said his energy budget proposal, which includes opening Alaska’s wildlife refuge to drilling, will be good for the economy and for national security, with the goal of weaning the United States away from overseas sources of crude oil.

“We have had four years of debate about a national energy bill. Now’s the time to get the job done,” he said.

This Senatorial vote is amid the backdrop of nearly record high oil prices last week, an obvious concern for our upset American economy.

I’m as concerned about raising gas prices as any other middle class. full-time college student forced to choose a walk in the park rather than a classy dinner for a first date.

I winced in slightly exaggerated pain along with everyone else who saw that gas prices were over $2.20 per gallon last week.

However, while these are definite concerns and should be addressed, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling is not a viable option in my eyes.

No one is certain of the benefit drilling ANWR would give us until drilling commences, which means that the expected relief might only be a fraction of what is optimistically predicted.

While advocates like the American Petroleum Institute say the refuge sits atop enough oil to replace U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia for two decades, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups insist that figure is wildly overstated.

“We won’t see this oil for 10 years. It will have minimal impact,” argues Sen. Maria Cantwell, a co-sponsor of the amendment that would have taken the Alaska drilling proposal out of the energy budget document.

“By the year 2020, if ANWR is in full production, it would reduce our importation of foreign oil from 62 percent of our national need to 60 percent, a 2 percent reduction.”

More importantly, is this 2 percent reduction on foreign oil for an unspecified length of time worth the risk to the multitude of dependant species and over a million acres of natural, untouched land?

Nature has long been considered as under the “stewardship” of mankind, and we have interpreted this time and again with how best to exploit and dominate it to fill our pocketbooks.

However, if we continue to carelessly ravage it the way we have been doing for our own use, we ignore its worth as a part of this world equal to the worth of our own.

ANWR is not a barren ice-land with oil potential; it is a wildlife refuge complete with 45 types of mammals including polar bears, calving caribou (yes, the reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh) and 180 species of migratory birds.

President Bush and supporters of drilling argue that drilling can now be done with “almost no impact on land or local wildlife.”

Still, we know from past experience that ecosystems are preciously fragile, and lawmakers can’t hold a baby caribou in one hand and a web of pipelines and drilling platforms in the other.

In point of fact, this endeavor is a true reflection of the American dream of self-reliance and protecting our own self-interests, and the good ‘ole American dream is good at capturing every available molecule but extremely careless about putting those molecules to use.

President Bush’s proposed budget for 2006 cuts funding for research in energy conservation by 2.5 percent, while America’s handling of fuel is like an unruly toddler who eats less baby food than what ends up on our face, hands, floor and wall.

Instead of learning ways to eat neater and less wastefully as we mature, we simply buy, beg and steal more baby food.

We need to explore and commercialize hybrid technology to become more efficient in energy conservation because there’s no feasible way we can drill our way out of an energy crisis.

Sen. Kerry ran his environmental campaign on this, and was accused of being “unrealistic and misleading.”

Then let’s spend our time, money and efforts toward making it realistic and plausible. We have the technology — we just need the heart, money and legislation.

I strongly support President Bush in many important issues, but destroying Alaska’s wildlife refuge for oil which may or may not impact our economy and fuel dependency while irrevocably damaging its raw, natural state is a big mistake with serious consequences.

Send comments to Jessica at [email protected].

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