The Democratic majority in the Senate produced a major setback today for the Bush administration when it rejected plans to drill into a wildlife refuge in Alaska. Some say this is perpetuating the problem of U.S. dependence on Middle-East oil, but in actuality, the proposed area doesn’t hold enough oil to make much of a dent in our need for Mid-East reserves, and the damage to this rare environment would be irreparable. The Bush administration needs to find another way to meet our fuel needs.
In a 54-46 vote, the Democratic majority scrapped plans proposed by Alaskan Senators Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens, both Republicans, that would allow controlled oil-drilling in the open plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The area covers about 92 million acres and according to an Associated Press report, would yield anywhere from 5.7 to 11.6 billion barrels of oil. We use 19 million barrels of oil per day in the United States, 57 percent of which is imported.
Republicans argue that by impeding the process of drilling in Alaska, Democrats are not supporting efforts to end our dependence on Mid-East oil. Democrats argue that the environment in Alaska has taken billions of years to develop into what it is today, and the drilling could destroy it all.
Both sides have valid points, but the Republicans are leaving out some facts. The process would take 10 years of preliminary work before any real drilling could be done. In 10 years, who knows what the situation in the Middle East will be? It would also do Democrats some good to point out that even if the drilling produces the best results possible, that’s still only 579 days worth of oil. We would go right back to depending on the Saudis for our reserves. It’s easy for middle-aged men to justify ruining environments they won’t have to worry about in their lifetime. This is too big a chance to take for so little profit.