SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE:

We’re No Dummies: Defeat of the Bush Arctic Refuge Drilling Bill

Do you ever get the feeling as you watch the daily news or one of those expose’-type primetime shows that our government might think us stupid when it comes to making both the major and the minor decisions required to run our country? Or maybe I’m being a bit too cynical when I say stupid. Perhaps the administration just bases all of their past and current choices on the hope that we’re either too busy, too ignorant, or too lazy to do anything about a bad decision. Either way, I’ve ended up experiencing feelings of doubt quite often during the past six years.

Now you’re probably wondering how this all ties in to the topic of my article: the defeat of Bush’s (and Ted Stevens, Republican – Arkansas) bill proposing the bulldozing and drilling of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. After doing my research, it struck me how crafty the administration was being in trying to get their bill (hereby referred to as ANWR) passed by Congress. Rather than just drafting a piece of legislation dealing solely with this issue, or even in conjunction with other environmental issues, they wrote it into a defense bill, most likely believing that Congress and their constituents would pass this bill with resounding “yes” votes from both parties. Because of course everyone knows that we must remain ever vigilant against the threat of terrorism, and a bill with the word “defense” somewhere in its title is certainly going to help protect the country and its citizens from harm.

So it must have been quite a surprise to the Bush administration when even several Republicans voted against ANWR, refusing to allow Congress and Americans to be manipulated like that. When it came down to the vote, only 56 Republicans voted against the filibuster which derailed the voted. Sixty votes were needed. Of course, during the vote, the Republicans were already deviously planning for future bills aimed at drilling the pristine Arctic Refuge. For example, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist led the no votes. As a member of the majority on this vote, he will now be able to bring up the drilling issue for another vote in the future.

And, of course, they will draft another bill once again proposing to drill oil in the Arctic Refuge, but for now, we can rest assured that the pristine wilderness and various animal species in that region will remain unharmed by big oil companies and the money-hungry forces that drive them.

Environmental activists and others concerned about the wilderness continue to prepare people in the fight against drilling the Arctic Refuge. No matter what bill the Bush administration tries to sell Congress, the fact remains that the United States only has about three percent of known petroleum reserves worldwide. In fact, a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration estimates that, by the time the drilling in the Arctic would be at peak production in ten or twenty years, gas prices would still only be affected about a penny per gallon. Is it really worth it to ruin one of the last pristine wildernesses in the world, just for a penny less per gallon? Makes me wonder what is really behind this frantic push to drill up there.

The Sierra Club has been a steady proponent in the fight to kill the drilling bill and continues to educate people on the facts of the situation. Should you want to join them in protecting the Arctic Refuge from future drilling threats, you can visit them at http://www.sierraclub.org/arctic/get_involved/index.asp. There you will find various campaigns such as signing a petition, writing a letter to your representative, and watching a documentary on this issue. Defenders of Wildlife also offers some ways to get involved. Check their site out at: http://www.savearcticrefuge.org/. If you want to receive periodic updates on future plans by the Bush administration to drill the Arctic, The Wilderness Society offers a WildAlert e-newsletter to keep you informed. You can sign up for that at: http://www.wilderness.org/takeaction/subscribe.cfm.

It’s not too late to help protect this beautiful area of the world. And if you were in the previous efforts to stop the Arctic drilling, kudos to you. Maybe this administration will eventually get the hint that we’re not stupid, lazy, or ignorant. We do make a difference.