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Are we certain it’s spelled with an E-H?

July 18, 2008
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In the category of politicians who just don’t get it, comes a gem from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) this week. We’re all aware that gas prices are on the high side these days, and instead of initiating a new age in politics and bending the collective will of the American people to a viable long-term energy solution, it seems the talking heads prefer to stick with what works. Namely the continued attempt to bleed the last remaining wild places of fossil fuels to feed the machine of industry like a heroin junkie digging through his friend’s couch cushions for spare change to spend on the smack.

The shining jewel in the middle of the short term crown is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, beneath whose permafrost encrusted landscape lies barrel upon barrel of sweet sweet crude, the likes of which will, no doubt, make attainable a future in which we all drive our personal Hummer spacecraft into the glorious sunset. Unfortunately, this dream runs head long into truth in a recent Department of Energy report stating that drilling in ANWR will lower the price of a barrel of oil a whole $0.75, or $0.02 a gallon. And that’s at least ten years from now.

But the wet blanket of reality won’t stop the Republicans from beating this particular dead horse. The aforementioned Boehner is heading on a trip to ANWR, a dream for so many birders, but don’t tell that to him, he doesn’t expect to see much, stating:

“We’re going to look at this barren, Arctic desert where I’m hoping to see some wildlife, but I understand there’s none there. But I’m still going to look for it. If I find any, I’ll let you know.”

With that kind of attitude, how can he fail? Not that it would help much, but he should have planned his trip in late May, when the shorebirds and waterfowl were more evident. It’s practically a given that Boehner will not only have a less than complete impression of the North Slope, but it would not surprise me if he were not prepared to head to the places where the full grandeur of ANWR was on display either. Boehner doesn’t want to find wildlife on his trip, he wants to justify his belief that it will be nothing to begin oil exploration there. And so it’s likely he won’t find wildlife and will only have his preconceived notions, however ridiculous, “confirmed”.

And so it goes, though I personally believe that this bit of political posturing will come to nothing. Democrats are poised to take larger advantages in Congress this fall, and both presidential candidates have publicly stated their opposition to drilling in ANWR. That doesn’t mean they won’t eventually cave to political pressure as they have on so many issues in the last eight long years, but it’s a hope we have to cling to if we wish to preserve the last remaining bit of habitat on the North Slope.

Update: Posted on the Birdchat listserve from a conversation with the deputy manager of ANWR. The congressional delegation traveling to ANWR will apparently participate in a flyover, but not in a small airplane designed for viewing wildlife. They will also visit a village within the borders of ANWR but will otherwise not at all set foot in the refuge. It is likely that the representatives will not see any wildlife of note during their visit, further confirming their beliefs that drilling is an imperative.

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4 Comments
  1. noflickster permalink
    July 18, 2008 9:05 am

    Nice summary. Any idea who is he travelling with? My impression is he’s heading up with other congressional republicans, nicely coordinated so there won’t be any pesky discussion of what’s actually there, nor the “benefits” of raping that landscape. Nor will there be anyone who can point out the diversity of wildlife and that annoying concept of the web of life. It’ll be just like scotch and sodas while plotting back room strategies, only this back room will be a helicopter. Or fixed-wing aircraft, whatever the taxpayers can afford.

    I hope this politics-as-usual will eventually run its course and sometime in my lifetime we’ll see more useful discussion and open-mindedness rather than these playground-like antics.

    Brilliant post title, too!
    -Mike

  2. July 18, 2008 10:01 am

    The report says “several Republicans” for whatever that is worth. I also suspect, like you do, that due to tight scheduling the tour will consist of only a aircraft flyover with little, if any, actual time on the ground.

    It’s the other side of the coin of this whole “Serengeti of North America” PR. He’ll likely expect big flashy megafauna when the real biomass can’t really be impressed at 10,000 ft. So he’ll “see” nothing, even if there’s more there than meets the eye. Disappointing.

    It’s a foregone conclusion he’ll come back more ready than ever to drill, and now with the “experience” of having been there. These things are so telegraphed it’s almost funny.

  3. John permalink
    July 18, 2008 12:52 pm

    I’m pretty sure he’ll do it in such a way as to ensure minimal contact with wildlife. It’s a waste of jet fuel as far as I’m concerned. I just hope it’s not too expensive.

  4. Sky Girl permalink
    July 19, 2008 11:35 pm

    It’s a total crock, plain and simple. What a waste of time and money.

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