Speaking of Special Interests

The combination of Hurricane Katrina and $3.00 per gallon gasoline have caused some to look to northern Alaska for expanded oil supplies. But not the Senate Democrats, who are tied as tightly to the environmental lobby as they are to NARAL, PFAW et al. Yesterday, opponents of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge held a rally on the west lawn of the Capitol. As demonstrations go, it was small, but powerful Democrats, including Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton, nevertheless turned out to denounce the Bush administration’s proposal to drill in ANWR. The event was not widely covered, but the New York Sun had a reporter there, as did the Anchorage Daily News. The Sun reports:

Over the din of beating tom-toms, surrounded by activists wearing antlers and dressed as polar and grizzly bears, Senator Clinton yesterday dismissed high gas prices and the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina as a “diversion,” cautioning that proponents of arctic drilling were exploiting recent crises to make their case for a long-term anti-environment agenda.
Mrs. Clinton told those opposed to drilling to be “absolutely firm in our opposition” to drawing petroleum from Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“Some might say, ‘Well, senator, we have gas prices going up – don’t we need to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge?'” Mrs. Clinton said. “And of course the answer is that we do not. The answer is that that is a diversion. The answer is that we need to break our addiction to foreign oil.”

Which is, obviously, a non sequitur. Breaking our addiction to foreign oil is one of the reasons commonly advanced in support of ANWR drilling, inasmuch as Alaska is part of the United States. Mrs. Clinton continued:

“Here’s what I think,” Mrs. Clinton said. “It makes no sense to respond to a disaster in the gulf by making a disaster in Alaska.”

Another non sequitur. How about saying, instead: “It makes sense to respond to a disaster in the gulf by getting oil from Alaska, so that future disasters in the gulf will have less impact on oil supplies and prices.”
More Mrs. Clinton:

“I believe that our continuing opposition sends a clear message that we will not be diverted from the primary goal of weaning us from this addiction to foreign oil,” she said yesterday, noting that drilling in the arctic “would not have any material impact on either oil prices or U.S. oil imports.”

Define “material.” The ANWR reserves are estimated at around 7 to 8 billion barrels of oil. Hillary continues:

Bemoaning the fate of the porcupine caribou resident in ANWR, New York’s junior senator said the solution to “$65-a-barrel oil” was not increasing domestic petroleum output but instead devising alternative fuels. “The answer to our energy challenge does not lie under the plains of the arctic refuge,” she said, “but in the minds that are ingenious in America.”
“We could work our way out of this,” Mrs. Clinton added, “if the people in power today would get out of the way and quit looking to the past and start looking to the future.”

Clinton is a big advocate of hydrogen-powered cars, which is presumably what she was referring to here. But so is President Bush, so, apart from Bush-bashing being an absolute requisite any time Democrats gather, it’s hard to say what she was complaining about. In any event, hydrogen-powered cars are at best a long-term solution, assuming they work at all.
Photo by Robin Weiner:
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In any event, it’s going to take more than preaching to a handful of the faithful to convince Americans that they don’t want more, and cheaper, oil. A recent Pew survey shows growing support for ANWR drilling, with respondents supporting the measure by 50% to 42%. Support is growing fastest among Democrats.
And Austin Bay notes that there may be a trillion barrels of recoverable oil in Colorado’s shale deposits. I’ll bet the environmentalists will love that, too.
Senator Clinton is absolutely correct that the solution to today’s insufficient supply of oil, and resultant high prices, lies in “the minds that are ingenious in America.” But those minds are going to bring us more plentiful petroleum long before they produce hydrogen fuel cell cars.

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