Thursday, July 17, 2008

ANWR, Green Pandering, and the Feds

In a generally excellent post on Power Line, John Hinderaker analyzes the Democratic faux attempt to assuage the recent push to open up domestic oil drilling.

Yet, there is an important question that Hinderaker, and many conservatives unfortunately, fails to ask: Why should it be up to the Feds to determine what Alaskans do with resources within that state?

The history of ANWR gives the sad answer. In brief, it amounted to yet another in a long and depressing line of Federal land grabs, based at least in part on Green pandering.

According to one source (Univ. North Carolina), the acreage was 'set aside' in 1923 for the purpose of securing a strategic oil reserve. But more recent legislative history shows otherwise. According to the website of Patrick Leahy, senator from Vermont:
In 1960 President Eisenhower established the 8.9 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Range, in order to protect its "unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values."

In 1980 Congress and President Carter expanded the Range and renamed it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Further additions enlarged the Refuge to 19.5 million acres.

Congress permanently protected most of the Refuge but set aside 1.5 million acres in the coastal 1002 area for oil exploration and potential development, subject to further Congressional approval.

Several subsequent efforts to open the 1002 area for development failed in Congress, one after the Exxon Valdez disaster and one by presidential veto. The 1002 area is the last 5% of Alaska's northern coastal plain that is not open to oil and gas development.

So, a drunken ships' captain runs his tanker aground, causing a large oil spill. Some birds die. Exxon spends billions to clean it up. Yet, forever after, private oil companies are not permitted to extract a very valuable resource and market it in the face of high demand.

Alaska became a state in January, 1959. So, again, I ask, why is the Federal government involved at all?

1 comment:

VH said...

Your question is a good one. This is a classic example of the Federal governments creeping authority grab. If we really believed in federalism in this country, then drilling in ANWR wouldn't be an issue.