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Setback for energy foes.

ITEM: After the Senate voted to permit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), London's Guardian for March 18 reported: "Alaska's wilderness is a place of frozen tundra, calving caribou, wolves, polar bears, millions of migrating birds and stunning natural beauty. But that has not prevented the US Senate from preparing to open it up for oil and gas exploration that environmentalists warn will have disastrous results. Wednesday's 51-49 vote ... ended a long struggle with big oil companies and has fuelled concerns that other unspoilt corners of America will be blighted by drilling rigs, pipelines and the ugly infrastructure that goes with them. It was, protested John Kerry, 'a Republican sneak attack on one of our most treasured natural wonders.'"

CORRECTION: Far from destroying a pristine paradise, as many development foes claim, drilling is slated to affect a mere 2,000 acres of barren tundra within a 19-million-acre reservation in the icy outback of the mammoth state of Alaska. As one columnist wryly pointed out several years ago, this footprint of potential development is about 50 times smaller than the Montana ranch owned by left-wing activist Ted Turner, who has been prominent among those demanding that ANWR remained untouched.

The scare stories rolled out about caribou calamities and the like are reprises of tales earlier used by opponents to delay production in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay--where the caribou, in fact, have since thrived. The small slice of ANWR at issue is believed to contain at least 10.4 billion barrels of oil, which is more than the first estimates of what would be found at Prudhoe Bay (those estimates doubled once development was permitted).

Senate antagonists prevented for the last four years all attempts at drilling--even though, as noted by the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the Clinton Administration had argued "that it could be done in an environmentally friendly manner." In fact, continued NCPA, "a 1980 law that doubled the size of ANWR to 19 million acres expressly permitted Congress to develop a process through which exploration and production could proceed. And then-President Jimmy Carter hailed the bill as a great compromise that 'strikes a balance between protecting areas of great beauty and value and allowing development of Alaska's vital oil, gas, mineral and timber resource.'"

The U.S. is spending more than $166 billion a year to import crude oil and petroleum products, in significant part be cause of restrictive domestic political and regulatory decisions. It's past time to allow access to an area that is but the size of the Dulles airport (near Washington, D.C.) on a reserve that is literally as large as the state of South Carolina.
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Title Annotation:CORRECTION, PLEASE!
Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Correction Notice
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 18, 2005
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