Well, it seems workers are battling to contain a large spill of crude-contaminated water—111,300 gallons—at ConocoPhillips' Kuparuk oil filed on Alaska's North Slope. State officials are concerned about impacts on the fragile tundra environment. How ironic that this comes days after the Senate voted to open the nearby ANWR to oil development. Fortunately, however, the compliant media have contained the crisis—by keeping it out of the headlines.
Resorting to the sleazy tactic of burying the measure in a budget package to head off a Democratic fillibuster, Senate Republicans passed a major hurdle in opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploitation. By a single vote, the Senate defeated a Democrat-backed measure that would have prevented a vote on ANWR as part of a budget resolution March 17. If the House similarly agrees to this subterfuge, western North America's last great caribou herd faces twilight.
A March 18 report on al-Jazeera noted a cruel irony to OPEC's just-ended conference in Isfahan, where the oil ministers of the 11 member nations agreed to boost production in a bid to bring down global prices. No sooner did the conference close before prices surged to an all-time record high of $57 a barrel.
Here's what's really sad: the Kyoto treaty on global climate change which takes effect this week--minus the US, the world's major producer of greenhouse gases by far--doesn't even significantly address the problem, activists charge. In fact, some measures are downright counter-productive and could "open up a Pandora's box of impacts we can't even guess at," according to Anne Petermann of the Vermont-based Global Justice Ecology Project.
Ecologists protested at the US embassy in London Feb. 12 over President Bush's refusal to join the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gases and tackle climate change. The long-stalled treaty goes into effect this week, committing 136 countries to reduce gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels in the next decade. Prime Minister Tony Blair has declared climate change "the biggest, long-term challenge the global community faces". But the US, the biggest producer of greenhouse gases by far, is the only major industrial country not to have signed.