Senate ANWR drilling defeated

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Principle hung on by a thread in the Senate, today. It was both a sad and joyous occasion for me. Sad, because the dirty political trick of placing the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) drilling question into a Defense Appropriations Bill is standard operating procedure in D.C. these days. Republicans believed the threat of saying Democrats opposed defense spending for our troops would be sufficient to get enough Democrat votes for a Cloture vote to limit debate and allow a vote to pass the bill. This embedding of one unrelated bill inside another is sadly all too common. The good news is Democrats held firm and ANWR drilling will not be passed inside this Defense Appropriations Bill.

A huge principle at play here is whether anything in America once held dear and in the public trust is sacred. The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is a huge area. It has over a million acres of pristine wilderness set aside by a long passed Congressional Vote to hold this land inviolate for the enjoyment of the taxpayers who wish to visit a land that modern civilization has not converted to commercial usage, as well as a safe haven for wildlife indigenous to the area. I for one applaud the Senators who prevented this cloture vote from going forward, thus, saving ANWR for the tax payer's and wildlife's benefit for another Congressional year.

The American people own that Refuge. Oil magnates and investors continue to lose sleep over the idea that to date, they can't get their hands on a guessed at 1,000,000 barrels of oil lying below ANWR to add to their most profitable commodity for sale. The only way to get their hands on that oil is to convert a portion of the ANWR from pristine wilderness to a commercial production zone complete with housing, offices, warehouses, roads, pipelines, and of course drilling equipment. The Senate vote today once again prevented all that from occurring. But more, this vote halted a slippery slope of legislation.

If the Oil Industry is permitted access to ANWR, commercial interests will forever use that precedent as argument for violating any and all other publicly held assets for commercial gain if profit is in the offing. The Grand Canyon, National Parks, Dams and rivers, historical interests, and pristine mountains all could fall from the grace of public ownership and protection to mining interests, commercial water interests, and entertainment theme park entrepreneurs, using ANWR drilling for oil as the great example of how nothing owned by the public is inviolate.

I don't like the Democratic Party much, but, I applaud their taking the politically uncomfortable stand they did today to preserve the principle of public trust and ownership in America. It is not a settled issue however. Next year, as sure as the oil industry provides campaign contributions to Republicans, this issue will again come before the Congress year after year as long as there is a President in the Whitehouse who will not veto such a proposal to compromise public trust principles.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on December 21, 2005 12:27 PM.

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