Sunday, January 18, 2009

It seems I've heard this song before

Well, that didn't take long at all. Two weeks into 2009, US Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a bill to designate the 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. "The Arctic National Wildlife Refuse is a pristine natural treasure that must be preserved for future generations. We do not have to choose between conservation and exploration when it comes to our energy future; we can do both simultaneously while moving toward a sustainable and diverse national energy policy," he said in a Jan. 14 floor speech introducing the bill.

Earlier in his remarks, however, he noted that wilderness designation would restrict human activities to non-motorized recreation, scientific research, and other non-invasive activities. "Logging, mining, road building, mechanized vehicles, and other forms of development are generally prohibited in designated wilderness areas. However, since these particular lands are in Alaska, some public motorized uses will be permitted for subsistence and traditional use. For example, subsistence hunting as well as limited backpacking and hiking will be allowed," Lieberman said. Twenty-two other Senate Democrats are co-sponsoring the measure.

US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) and Alaska Gov. Sarah H. Palin immediately criticized Lieberman's bill for attempting to lock up ANWR's coastal plain. "Let's not forget: Only six months ago, oil was selling for nearly $150/bbl while Americans were paying $4/gal and more for gasoline. And today, there is potential for prices to rebound as [the Organization of Petroleum Explorting Countries] asserts its market power and as Russia is disrupting needed natural gas to Europe for the second time in three years," Palin said in a statement.

"As I traveled throughout the country campaigning for vice president, I was glad to hear politicians, including President-elect Barack Obama, promise ‘everything was on the table’ to address America's great challenges. I also found that when Americans were apprised of the facts, most people became supporters of responsible oil and gas drilling in Alaska. So, I want to remind our national leaders of this promise, and to make the case against this legislation that would permanently take off the table any consideration of responsible ANWR drilling,” she continued.

"Given that we were at record oil prices only a few months ago, it makes no sense to deny Americans access to lower-cost energy by permanently locking up North America's largest potential source of oil and gas," said Murkowski. "I'm confident that through the use of modern drilling technology, we can develop our natural resources, including ANWR, without harming the environment. Developing ANWR offers an opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and improve our national security. Taking ANWR permanently off the table at a time of volatile energy prices and economic hardship is simply not wise public policy."

But the proposal quickly put congressional Democrats on record as remaining against authorizing federal oil and gas leasing on ANWR's coastal plain. Not that anyone expected this to happen anytime soon . . .


Anonymous Phil Huff said...

I see this as a response to the expiration of the coastal drilling ban back in Sept. 2008.

I think this has always been an issue where democrats hold strong, so I see it as a combination of the two.

January 19, 2009 at 1:51 PM  

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