By John S. Hutton
March 18, 2006
Support of ANWR by some (most? I have no idea) Alaskans is understandably about money, not some wise, benevolent act to save the world. Wilderness has far greater value than oil these days, in my opinion, though, as it is scarcer, dwindling faster, and harder to replace. And Prudhoe Bay isn't exactly an ecological gem, as the recent massive BP spill shows clearly.
The argument that the drilling area is "only 2000 acres" is also erroneous. The acreage in question is a good hunk of the coastal plain, the richest feeding and breeding ground. Wildlife prefer this habitat to the more barren central tundra, similar to how people spend a thousand times more money on beachfront property in Florida than swampland. Also, the acreage allotted to infrastructure - roads, pipelines, etc. - would surely increase the amount spoiled tenfold, at a minimum. And what is to stop oil companies from expanding their footprint once drilling is allowed - this is a very slippery slope. In the time it takes to get this oil online, if America devoted the amount in oil and gas subsidies in the recent energy bill to efficiency or new technology, the oil recovered wouldn't even be necessary. Think of the mind-boggling advances in medical and information technologies over ten years, the time that would take oil to start spilling. At some point we need to evolve and embrace new technologies rather than desperately drilling in and wrecking the small amount of pristine land left in America. And this is federal land, as much mine in Ohio than yours when you lived in Alaska. Similarly, you are welcome to advocate for drilling in Lake Erie if you wish.
Finally, on a spiritual/legacy level, what represents the most prudent stewardship of planet Earth and America's natural heritage? Let Texas be barren scrub brush (I used to live there) - Alaska deserves to be left as intact as possible. This is a difficult issue, but the big, long-term picture strongly favors protection.
Nice letterhead, though,
John S. Hutton
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