ANWR: Republicans try again

How long before this particular axe falls? What is ironic about the pro-drilling rhetoric is that it implicitly or explicitly demonizes the Arabs (as well as the environmentalists, of course) for driving up oil prices. Meanwhile: a.) the Arabs are pumping the stuff as fast as they can, and prices remain sky-high despite this, and b.) it is the high prices which hold the only promise of making their dreams of exploiting ANWR a possibility. Who are they kidding? Themselves? From Market Watch, May 25:

House passes ANWR exploration
Oil, gas exploration measure likely to face Senate filibuster

WASHINGTON — Seeking to respond to soaring gasoline prices, the House on Thursday revisited a top Bush administration priority by voting again to open a portion of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil exploration.

The Republican-backed bill passed on a 225-201 vote largely along party lines. But the measure is viewed as unlikely to pass muster in the Senate, where Democrats and a handful of Republicans have repeatedly used filibusters to block passage. See how they voted.

Republicans said opening ANWR would stand as part of a broader effort to increase domestic supplies of petroleum that could be coupled with increased conservation efforts and challenged Democrats to back the bill.

“Gas in my district is almost $3.50 a gallon. We need to do something about providing energy here at home. You can’t say no to everything,” said House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., the sponsor of the bill.

Democrats and environmental groups charged that efforts to open ANWR were a sop to big oil companies that would be unlikely to produce significant amounts of oil for at least a decade, if at all.

“We should be debating how we radically increase the amount of renewable fuels in our country that is consumed … about how we improve all of the vehicles which we drive in terms of their energy efficiency,” said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. “Instead, the response from the majority is to once again bring out this bill that will not produce the first barrel of oil for at least 10 years in a pristine wildlife refuge in Alaska.”

Petroleum geologists believe the biggest concentration of oil in the refuge lies under a 1.5 million-acre strip of the Alaskan coastal plain called section 1002. The legislation would allow drilling activity in the 1002 area. The Department of Energy has estimated the region could contain 5.7 billion to 16 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.

The White House issued a statement enthusiastically endorsing the legislation.

“The administration commends the House for acting on this important initiative to address the Nation’s critical energy needs. Exploring for additional crude oil supplies in the United States will take pressure off the price of gasoline and ease the burden on America’s families. Developing America’s own secure domestic supplies of oil will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil,” the White House said.

The Wilderness Society, citing figures from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, said ANWR, even if producing near peak capacity, would knock about a penny a gallon off the price of gas in 20 years.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said gas prices would be lower today if former President Bill Clinton hadn’t vetoed ANWR exploration.
“We would have had 100 million barrels a day now flowing to the American consumers. Your gas prices wouldn’t be $3.25 today,” Young said.

Not all Republicans were on board, however. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., said Congress’ biggest oversight was a failure to require increased automobile fuel efficiency.

“I would point out that if Congress had not blocked higher fuel economy standards 11 years ago we would save far more oil than ANWR would produce. We really are classic addicts. We would rather keep seeking our oil fix, our heroin with all its attendant dangers, than shift to conservation,” Boehlert said.

A typically deluded comment from the National Association of Manufacturers‘ ANWR blog, addressed to Congresional opponents of drilling:

Thanks for surrendering to the muslim terrorist regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran. You are helping to destroy our economy and building the muslim nations. We need to drill in our nation and keep the dollars at home rather than sending them overseas. I dont want to support islam another day or with another penny. You will be voted out next term as it is obvious you despise America. We need to completely stop all business with these muslim nations and develop our own economy so we will no longer be held in chains by these terrorist regimes that claim to be our friends.

See our last post on the struggle for ther ANWR and control of oil.