What We Wont Do to Feed Our Appetite for Oil
by Pat Piper
At the end of 2002, when you are asked what was the biggest waste of societys time over the past 365 days, the answer is going to be (I hope) a no-brainer. But were only in May so theres lots of room to knock what happened last month out of first place.
The Bush Administration has been at work trying to convince the rest of us weve reached a point where we just have to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. After all, we have a 19 million-barrel-per-day appetite. One persuasive argument they make is the fact that 57 percent of the oil we use comes from other countries, even Iraq. The Bush Administration is smart to make the attempt to become less dependent on natural resources that come from nitwits like Saddam Hussein.
Speaking of nitwits, lets talk about the Senate.
As part of the push to pass the Bush Administration Energy Plan, senators spent a week arguing about the need to start drilling for oil in a wildlife refuge in Alaska. Thats right, a wildlife refuge. Experts predict there is as much as 16 billion barrels of oil beneath the frozen land. Thats going to fuel a lot of SUVs that only get 16 miles to the gallon. If you do the math, 16 billion barrels will supply oil to the U.S. for exactly 732 days. After that, well, maybe Saddam will be singing a different tune. Please.
The good news is this aint gonna happen because pro-drilling forces didnt have the votes. The bad news is these 100 intelligent human beings wasted everyones time on an inane idea. (Maryland senators Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes voted against it, while Virginias George Allen and Warner supported Arctic drilling.) I was hoping the vote could be delayed until Earth Day, but the pro-drilling forces decided to cut their losses. That was the only good idea theyve had on this issue.
This is a wildlife refuge. Theres a reason it was made a wildlife refuge, and thats because wildlife need one single place where they can live unencumbered by civilization. Are we going to just say, You know what? The hell with the bears and the caribou, we need oil because we dont want to be inconvenienced?
If we are going to say this and thats what was said on the Senate floor just a week ago then we need to say Lets charge McDonalds for ads on Mt. Rushmore because we need a few billion for education
And lets drill for more oil in Yosemite and let Hyatt put an outdoor beer garden next to Old Faithful.
Lets just forget the whole crazy idea about keeping some land untouched. Ill guarantee there will never be another deficit. If there is, just sell off another stupid national park. Make it a movie theater/mall and let Disney run the thing.
The question has to be asked: Do we have to use every single acre of land simply because its there for the taking? The Senate has already answered by even having such a discussion.
Nowhere in the arguments being made by proponents of this idea is there any suggestion that maybe were in this mess because we just havent paid any attention to what happened in this country in 1977 when America first heard the letters O-P-E-C put together.
Automakers have made great strides in producing high-quality cars despite griping about how it cant be done. Their record proves it can be done. With some assistance from the senators who wasted time in this ridiculous debate, domestic automakers could be well on the way toward producing a car using less petroleum foreign or domestic.
A month ago, these same folks arguing for oil drilling had the chance to set mileage requirements on SUVs and light pickup trucks to ensure less use of oil, be it domestic or foreign. They chose to give the Department of Transportation two years to decide what the minimum miles per gallon should be. Thats the same department that is part of the White House that wants to drill for oil in national parks.
The first words coming from those who see nothing wrong with this idea will be, thats the voice of a left-wing (fill-in-the-blank) party trying to get the government to tell me what kind of car I should drive.
It isnt. Its the voice of common sense saying the problem is that we use too much oil. Drilling for more oil, even if its in Texas or Alaska or Yellowstone, isnt going to solve the problem. Looking at the big picture will, but so far that record isnt too good.
In another 10 years, I hope parents will be able to show their children what a national park looks like. If this can be done without the use of a gas-eating SUV, so much the better. But Ill take the park over the SUV any day. In the meantime, the move to make meaningless the words wildlife refuge is going to continue until all of us say Stop wasting valuable time and energy on bad ideas.