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Putting Drilling Over Democracy

Reported by Ellen - March 11, 2005

While the Bush Administration crows about democracy in Iraq, it is working to subvert it at home. The latest battle front is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A recent bipartisan poll shows that the public is against drilling for oil there, Democratic senators successfully filibustered against it last year but the Bush Administration, along with its PR wing, FOX News, remains undeterred by these inconvenient obstacles and determined as ever to hand over one of our nation's most pristine sites to their buddies in the oil business.

As reported on FOXNews.com yesterday, a senate panel voted to "protect" the latest ANWR vote from a filibuster "as the Senate Budget Committee voted to clear the way for drilling."

Last night, Secretary for the Interior Gale Norton did her part for the cause as a guest on Alan Colmes' FOX News radio program.

Colmes did an excellent job of punching holes in every one of Norton's talking points. He made it clear that the amount of oil in ANWR is unknown, it's not enough to solve our energy problems, that the risk to the environment is severe, and that there are plenty of more sensible alternatives.

The first alternative Colmes suggested was closing the SUV fuel efficiency loophole. He claimed that doing so would save a million barrels of oil a day by 2015, more than ANWR would produce. Norton didn't deny that but said that the "Administration has raised the requirements for the light duty trucks - raised the mileage targets that they need to achieve. The president has also suggested to Congress that we have tax credits for hybrid vehicles and has urged the movement to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles."

Comment: The increased fuel efficiency standards are 1.5 miles per gallon phased in at half a mile per gallon over three years, ending in 2007. The Sierra Club called the increase "virtually nothing."

Colmes pressed, "Why not focus on conservation, alternate sources, which according to a Harris poll in January 52% of Americans prefer over the route which this Administration is taking?

Norton: We have to have a comprehensive approach that includes all of that... It's not (for) the big oil companies that can go anyplace in the world. It is for America to have its own source of energy, its own people earning that income (comment: especially Bush and Cheney and all their pals!), have the funds stay in the United States, have jobs here.

Colmes then said that he read that we export about 9% of our oil from Alaska to China and Japan. Why not keep that oil here instead of drilling in ANWR?

Norton said that would "certainly be far less than what we'd be getting from ANWR." Comment: It's hard to know how she could be certain about that since nobody seems to be sure how much oil is recoverable from ANWR and how much is economically feasible to recover. From there she went into a sales pitch about the new technology for drilling and how the land gets restored once the drilling is done, etc.

Comment: Here's yet another Bush Administration plan guaranteed to enrich their cronies but marketed as a pat solution to a dire threat to the American people. This one sounds about as probable as Iraqi oil paying for the Iraq war - when was the last time you heard about that from O'Reilly, Hannity, Cavuto or Gibson?

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