Third Party & Independents Archives

December 21, 2005

Senate ANWR drilling defeated

Principle hung on by a thread in the Senate, today. It was both a sad and joyous occasion for me. Sad, because the dirty political trick of placing the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) drilling question into a Defense Appropriations Bill is standard operating procedure in D.C. these days. Republicans believed the threat of saying Democrats opposed defense spending for our troops would be sufficient to get enough Democrat votes for a Cloture vote to limit debate and allow a vote to pass the bill. This embedding of one unrelated bill inside another is sadly all too common. The good news is Democrats held firm and ANWR drilling will not be passed inside this Defense Appropriations Bill.

A huge principle at play here is whether anything in America once held dear and in the public trust is sacred. The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is a huge area. It has over a million acres of pristine wilderness set aside by a long passed Congressional Vote to hold this land inviolate for the enjoyment of the taxpayers who wish to visit a land that modern civilization has not converted to commercial usage, as well as a safe haven for wildlife indigenous to the area. I for one applaud the Senators who prevented this cloture vote from going forward, thus, saving ANWR for the tax payer's and wildlife's benefit for another Congressional year.

The American people own that Refuge. Oil magnates and investors continue to lose sleep over the idea that to date, they can't get their hands on a guessed at 1,000,000 barrels of oil lying below ANWR to add to their most profitable commodity for sale. The only way to get their hands on that oil is to convert a portion of the ANWR from pristine wilderness to a commercial production zone complete with housing, offices, warehouses, roads, pipelines, and of course drilling equipment. The Senate vote today once again prevented all that from occurring. But more, this vote halted a slippery slope of legislation.

If the Oil Industry is permitted access to ANWR, commercial interests will forever use that precedent as argument for violating any and all other publicly held assets for commercial gain if profit is in the offing. The Grand Canyon, National Parks, Dams and rivers, historical interests, and pristine mountains all could fall from the grace of public ownership and protection to mining interests, commercial water interests, and entertainment theme park entrepreneurs, using ANWR drilling for oil as the great example of how nothing owned by the public is inviolate.

I don't like the Democratic Party much, but, I applaud their taking the politically uncomfortable stand they did today to preserve the principle of public trust and ownership in America. It is not a settled issue however. Next year, as sure as the oil industry provides campaign contributions to Republicans, this issue will again come before the Congress year after year as long as there is a President in the Whitehouse who will not veto such a proposal to compromise public trust principles.

Posted by David R. Remer at December 21, 2005 01:33 PM
Comments
Comment #105548

Three cheers for this action. What a terrific example for the “ONE BILL, ONE PURPOSE” supporters who are growing rapidly in numbers. A message to incumbents has been sent.

Posted by: steve smith at December 21, 2005 01:50 PM
Comment #105554

The opposition to ANWR drilling is perhaps the most illogical, frustrating and pointless arguments in American politics today. I can almost guarantee that no one on this board has ever been to ANWR, and I doubt any of you ever will.

This is mere symbolism v. actual oil that American consumers, businesses and drivers needs (and, no, no one has any idea how much oil is down there- this is why we must EXPLORE). Once again Congress has shown itself to be unconcerned with the welfare of the American people, and more concerned with meaningless gestures.

One side note, I do agree with Steve’s point that attaching this to a defense appropriation bill was not right. I wish that it could pass as a stand alone measure, however, since opposition to this drilling is so based on emotion and symbolism than logic or the welfare of actual Americans. Of course, I am not surprised, this is par for the course in American politics today.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 02:02 PM
Comment #105571

MISHA
What is illogical are the continued arguements for permanent despoilment of a pristine environment that is the home for numerous OTHER species— for an approximate amount of oil that AT MOST represents about 6 months supply here at home.
ADDITIONALLY that oil would not be available for at least 10 years.
Considering that everyone is admitting that oil is a non-renewable, infinate, diminishing resource, it would seem to make sense that people would be arguing more for getting off the ball (or their butts) and developing alternative forms of energy.
IF YOU ARE REALLY SO CONCERNED WITH AMERICAN CITIZENS WELFARE IN THE FACE OF DIMINISHING OIL ENERGY RESOURCES (THE OIL UNDER ANWR AT BEST IS A MERE DROP IN THE OCEAN)AND THE DISRUPTION TO OUR FREEDOMS AND LIFESTYLE THEN GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR BUTT AND HELP DEVELOP ALTERNATE FORMS OF ENERGY THAT WE CAN USE TO MAINTAIN OUR ECONOMY, OUR COUNTRY, OUR LIFESTYLE.
THE OIL UNDER ANWR IS A MERE HICCUP ON THE WAY TOWARDS A FUTURE WITHOUT OIL THAT WILL MAKE YOU WISH FOR THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF MERELY BEING A KATRINA VICTIM!!

Posted by: Russ at December 21, 2005 02:44 PM
Comment #105583

Misha -

This has nothing to do with benefit to American people - just the potential profits for the Oil Industry.

If people are concerned with the American public, why has no one truly put for an effort to develop alternative fuels. This isn’t some canned hippie tree-hugging idea. The country that develops the new generation of fuel will own the world economy like the Middle East does today. We’re either first to market or we will become the next ‘has been’ country on the global stage. Drilling in the ANRW is just a pathetically wasted, destructive distraction.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 03:08 PM
Comment #105586

Russ, you want me to get off my butt? I am in law school and going to be a lawyer- it is not my job to drill for oil or to discover new oil sources. There will be new sources of energy that take over from oil, I can garantee you that, and i can almost certainly garantee you that the private sector and the market will have more to do with their development than some bureaucrats in Washington.

But back on the ACTUAL point- there is a simply fact that you guys cannot avoid: Drilling ANWR will, by definition, benefit every single consumer of oil by increasing supply, and thus decreasing pricing

There is absolutely nothing special about ANWR (except that hardly ever Americans ever go there!) as compared to all the other places in the world there is drilling. This is completely and totally a symbolic fight, and consumers should not have to pay more for gas to make people feel better about winning symbolic victories. There is no reason to believe that ANWR is some super special eco system that is so unlike any other that we cannot DARE have a couple of oil rigs up there. I am sorry, I respect many position of environmentalists- even if i disagree with them- but when arguments this implausible are made, it undermines all environmentalists’ credibility.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 03:10 PM
Comment #105587

“This has nothing to do with benefit to American people - just the potential profits for the Oil Industry.”

More oil = higher supply = lower prices = benefit to consumers. Econ 101.

And stop confusing the issue of ANWR with alternative fuel sources. We are gonna use up every drop of oil sooner or later, and we are gonna develop alternative sources of energy sooner or later. to artificially restrict the supply of oil avaliable WITHIN OUR OWN BOARDERS while we are going to, like it or not, continue to buy oil for oversees hurts all of us. Oil companies, consumers, everyone.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 03:12 PM
Comment #105595

Any mention of the numerous pork projects attached to the defense bill yet?

Posted by: Ynot at December 21, 2005 03:17 PM
Comment #105599

Only a fool continues to use what causes harm just for the sake of ‘using it all up.’ No one questions the need for alternative fules - but ‘sooner or later’ only means that others will have the patents, ownership and market control of the energy future. Your arguments only hold water as a short term fix… but creates massive issues for the real future.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 03:20 PM
Comment #105609

Tony, are you saying that we should ban all oil drilling everywhere and also banning the importantion of any foreign oil? If so, at least your position is consistent, even if it would probably throw out country into the worst depression in its history. If you are not suggestion that, than this is just an artificial restriction on obtaining oil from our own land when we continue to buy it from other countries.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 03:26 PM
Comment #105626

Misha, I agree with you to a degree. We must begin to secure ourselves by removing our dependency on foreign (read - middle eastern) oil supplies. I believe we should explore ANWR but under extremely strict conditions that include full responsibility and accountability in the form of performance bonds against any oil company that explores in the region. So, if another Exxon Valdez occurs, they incur immediate forfeiture of the performance bond. Make the bond cost-prohibitive to forfeit, say, equivalent to one quarter’s net profits or something in order to keep them focused on not despoiling the environment.

The leases for exploration and prodcution that would be granted to the oil companies should have specific expiration dates and the royalties going to Alaska should escalate every year according to an index of all the Gross Profits of the oil industry sector. This helps in a couple of ways. First, it would become more expensive to produce and pull oil out of the ground in the long term, incenting the companies to disengage from the region versus continuing to expand exploration. Second, an incentive could be applied to the companies performing extraction and production in that a percentage of the royalties would come back to them if they produced an equivalent amount of alternative energy. In other words, incent them into development of alternative energy by allowing them to keep more of what they earn from the oil fields.

I’m not generally in favor of using public lands for these kinds of actions, but if the alternative is to spend $500B and lose over 2000 US Soldiers in Iraq, then I think we have to consider this course of action. I would not allow companies like Exxon to drill in ANWR however, because they have said that they have no plans to develop alternative energy or fuels. The leases should go to those companies willing to invest in developing alternative energy mechanisms.

Posted by: Dennis at December 21, 2005 03:49 PM
Comment #105637

Misha, you are missing the symbolism, I think. ANWR was established on the principle that all of America should not be for sale, that some of what was original before the founding of this country should be preserved, just as the original Document of the Constitution of the United States should be preserved for posterity.

Bush has put civil liberties and the Bill of Rights up for sale to the highest expedience bidders. It is refreshing and encouraging that some politicians in Washington are saying NO! NOT EVERYTHING IN AMERICA SHALL BE FOR SALE TO THE HIGHEST BIDDERS!!!

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 21, 2005 04:13 PM
Comment #105640

David- I think if you make your country’s principles stand on stupid examples of symbolism, it just makes your entire country look silly. ANWR was acquired as part of the purchase of Alaska in the 19th century, to be used for the economic benefit of the United States. I understand that this is symbolism, what i am saying is that it is a BAD, HARMFUL place to take your stand. Find something else- something that doesnt harm the American consumer and american business.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 04:22 PM
Comment #105644

—-
Tony, are you saying that we should ban all oil drilling everywhere and also banning the importantion of any foreign oil? If so, at least your position is consistent, even if it would probably throw out country into the worst depression in its history. If you are not suggestion that, than this is just an artificial restriction on obtaining oil from our own land when we continue to buy it from other countries.
—-

Why do you take someone’s argument to extreme in an effort to discredit it.

1 - Of course you can’t stop production of oil right now, it will take time to develop acceptable alternatives. However, at best, ANWR will not produce oil within the next 10 years, so what’s your point about restricting oil… it will not come into play for a long time to come. Also, the suspected amount of oil to be gained there is minimal at best (in consideration of the total consumption.)

2 - My main point is not the oil, but the next generation of energy. If we miss the ‘first to market’ with this one, we will most definitely “throw ou(r) country into the worst depression in its history.”

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 04:24 PM
Comment #105646

—-
Find something else- something that doesnt harm the American consumer and american business.
—-
Please support this opinion with something concrete. I think you’re drastically being over optimistic with regards to ANY benefit coming from drilling in ANWR.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 04:26 PM
Comment #105647

Eventually everything will fall prey to consumerism Misha if a line is not drawn somewhere. That is the symbolism and it is worth defending. There are things in this world and life more important than money and consumerism. If you fail to recognize that, that’s fine. But our Government made a decision to preserve that area of land back when it was thought to be worthless. Now that it has been discovered to potentially contain oil, in no way invalidates the right good and noble decision from the past to preserve a piece of America as it was and should always be. Natural and untouched by human development.

It was a sound decision then, and it is even more sound today, for the symbol and cause of ANWR is made even greater by the potential of oil underneath. Increasing CAFE standards in 2006 will conserve more oil than we are likely to ever get from ANWR. Therefore, the desire to drill in ANWR is motivated by profit and expedience, not national security or lack of options to obtain that volume of oil through other means.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 21, 2005 04:30 PM
Comment #105649

Tony, i am simply saying that artificially decreasing the supply of any good the American people purchase is harmful because they have to pay more of their money for that good. I am saying if we want symbolism, pick something that is innocuous.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 04:31 PM
Comment #105656

You can not assess ‘good’ and ‘bad’ based solely on market price. We have been paying the exact same amount for oil for the last 30 years. This has lead to an artificially low price for this commodity. Oil is extremely harmful to the environment, to the area it is mined for and it gives vast amounts of funding to those people we are now ‘at war’ with.

The sooner the price of oil reflects it’s true cost, the sooner the development and production (and use) of alternative fuels will be viable. The ‘cheap oil’ mentality will costs us far more in the long run than any economic benefit we might see over the next few years.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 04:36 PM
Comment #105659

David, I agree with everything in your article and agree that this is great news. However, Ted Stevens has been trying to get a bill for drilling in ANWR passed since 1980, and as we all know, the president has made this one of his top priorities and has been foaming at the mouth waiting to sign the bill when it passes. So unfortuately, we can probably expect them to try to sneak this into another bill at some point in the future.

Misha,
I consider your expressing your sentiments on these kind of issues a rather positive thing. To me, they reinforce exactly why Libertarian’s will never gain a majority in this country. Since your party’s stance rejects the whole idea of public lands, the idea that Americans might actually wish to protect those lands due to such considerations as fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats seems to be a totally alien concept to you Lib’s.
Fortunately, this has proven to be a viewpoint that most Americans simply cannot relate to.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 21, 2005 04:39 PM
Comment #105662

Adrienne- that may be true enough what you say about libetarians, but keep in mind that the in both the House and Senate, representatives of the majority of the American people support drilling in ANWR. The only reason it was defeated is because a minority succeeded in a filibuster in the Senate. So while libertarians are not in the mainstream of American, the Democrats are in the minority on this issue (and, maybe I add, many many others- which is why you all keep losing elections).

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 21, 2005 04:48 PM
Comment #105667

—-
but keep in mind that the in both the House and Senate, representatives of the majority of the American people support drilling in ANWR.
—-

No they don’t.

“A bipartisan national survey has found that by a margin of 53 percent to 35 percent, Americans oppose proposals to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bipartisan telephone poll of 1,003 registered voters was conducted January 13-17, 2005, by Republican firm Bellwether Research and Democratic pollsters Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates for the Alaska Coalition, an alliance of national and local groups who favor protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 04:56 PM
Comment #105672

David-

Sad, because the dirty political trick of placing the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) drilling question into a Defense Appropriations Bill is standard operating procedure in D.C. these days.

I hope you recognize that the “dirty political trick” of attaching controversial legislation to an appropriation is not a new one and is not unique to just one party.

Posted by: George in SC at December 21, 2005 05:05 PM
Comment #105676

George in SC…

You’re right. It’s been done for so long, and by both controlling parties… it’s a pathetic slight of hand to sneak legislation past normal procedure and/or to create faux controversy around political opponents. (“My opponent did not vote to give the military the money it needs.” )

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 05:08 PM
Comment #105678

George in SC,

I hope you recognize that the “dirty political trick” of attaching controversial legislation to an appropriation is not a new one and is not unique to just one party.

You’re absolutely right. It’s been done for entirely too long. And, no matter how many times it’s done, or by how many parties, it’s still a dirty political trick, and against the best interests of the American people.

Yet one more example of the corruption of the two parties. Yet one more similarity between all-too-similar “opponents”.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at December 21, 2005 05:09 PM
Comment #105684
It is refreshing and encouraging that some politicians in Washington are saying NO! NOT EVERYTHING IN AMERICA SHALL BE FOR SALE TO THE HIGHEST BIDDERS!!!

But David, the government should not be owning property. Property ownership should and at one time in this country was entirely privately held.

But those days are long gone, we rent our land from the government who charges us for the priviledge. All against the constitution, a document I found it ironic that you included in your statement.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 05:21 PM
Comment #105686

“The only reason it was defeated is because a minority succeeded in a filibuster in the Senate.”

There was no fillibuster. Drilling backers fell four votes short of getting the 60 votes required to avoid a threatened filibuster over ANWR drilling. The vote was 56-44.

PS. to tony: Thanks for keeping me from having to go search out the info on the Americans peoples true sentiments on this issue.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 21, 2005 05:23 PM
Comment #105687
If we miss the ‘first to market’ with this one, we will most definitely “throw ou(r) country into the worst depression in its history.”

How do we combat this though? By FORCING people to develop new alternative sources or by INCENTING people to develop them on their own? Or by hiring the scientists and having the government invent them?

Your answer to that question interests me…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 05:24 PM
Comment #105688

Adrienne -

No problem.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 05:24 PM
Comment #105689

Adrienne, ask those same people of they approve of the government deeming their property as a ‘natural resources’ and taking it from them through imminent domain? What do you think the numbers would be then?

Someone owned ANWAR before it was aquired through a land grab by the government, just as more and more land is being taken by the government from the free citizens of the US.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 05:26 PM
Comment #105694

Rhinehold -

And who is ‘the government’ owned by? The American people. We own this land.. our children and so on own this land. We as a group own this land, and we determine what is best - as a whole. Why do you immediately put attempt to put ANWR in an evil light by trying to suggest that it was stolen, just like other land has been stolen? Also, how do this at all impact the argument of drilling or not within ANWR?

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 05:34 PM
Comment #105699

Tony,

1) I was not discussing the drilling in ANWR, I was discussing your assertion that governmental owning of something is a good thing

2) The government is a body of people that we have given the ability to use force on us. We set their limits.

3) Your argument that we create and define the government, therefore it is ok for ‘the government’ by majority rule can come in and take my land from me for whatever percieved reason is arguably the most flawed and disgusting argument I could think of.

4) So, you are ok with the government coming in and taking your land at gunpoint because they want to put in a Walmart?

5) So, we own the government, that means that if the government wants to ignore the right we have to free speech and the right to bear arms, well, that’s just US doing it and it’s ok then, right? Shut down the press, institute a religious based government and force us to pray to God every day, that’s ok because we did it? Because a majority of citizens voted for it? You realize that the majority of US citizens are christian and would probably not hesitate at instituting a christian based theocracy, right?

6) We as a group own this land? cool, so when do I get to take my turn in Bill Gate’s house? I figure I could get a weekend in in the spring sometime, I just have to get the majority of people in the US to agree with me, right?

7) Do you see what a straight mod-rule democracy without the limits that the Bill of Rights guarantees us is not freedom in any sense of the word? How can we be free if we can never be secure in our own homes.

8) The government, since it shouldn’t own land, shouldn’t be able to tell someone that they can’t drill on that land. The ALASKAN government wants to drill there so that they could increase their economy and provide jobs to it’s citizens, yet we who do not live there have a right to tell them no? What kind of crack are we smoking?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 05:43 PM
Comment #105702

#8 should start ‘The FEDERAL government’.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 05:44 PM
Comment #105707

Rhinehold, are you seriously suggesting that America should sell the White House and Capital buildings and all national monuments, and military installations to private interests? Good lord, Man. That is a radical idea. Land held in public trust falls in the bland and commonplace range compared to the extreme notion you just offered.

America the nation should own nothing. Hell, let’s privatize the rights to the design and updating of the flag then too! And of course, my plans for a huge shopping mall on Arlington Cemetary would make me millions if I could just get the American people’s permission. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 21, 2005 05:54 PM
Comment #105709

Rhinehold:

1 - the topic is ANWR, sorry for assuming your discussion was about this.

2 - the Government is actually just a concept, the people actually work for the government… not sure how the ‘use force against us’ thing comes into play.

3,4,5,6,7 - Huh? No idea where these ideas came from… You obviously are worried about ‘the government’ coming in a taking your land, but not sure what this fear is based on. Has the Gov. actually taken your land? Are they threatening to? The right to own land is a basic concept that people, for the most, do not understand. I own land, and I get the benefit of that land. However, my ownership only gives me tentative rights to the use of that land. Society has the right to leverage it’s needs and benefit against an individuals rights and benefits to the use of the land. You can pollute or cause undo harm to your land that negatively impacts my interest with my land, and vise versa.

8) Are you now equally worried that the drilling by government consent might destroy the value or use individuals have on their own property? Nope - don’t smoke crack.

Sorry - but these arguments came out of left (or right) field… not sure I’ve made the best attempt at this initial discussion.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 05:56 PM
Comment #105711

tony, well said!

Rhinehold, there are lands we purchase individually, and there are vast natural public lands that have been purchased and are owned by us as Americans collectively.
Because most of these are very special places that are fragile ecosystems teeming with wildlife, most of us want them to remain just that way — not allow the government to despoil them in order NOT to solve any of our energy problems.

PS. I am not in favor of the govt. usurping land from people for imminent domain in general — but that isn’t what we’re talking about here at all.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 21, 2005 05:57 PM
Comment #105714

Rhinehold, I forgot the biggest one of all. The Right of U.S. to define and protect borders. The American government should then give up all claim to sovereign borders as well. I knew we should have just let Nikita Kruschev just make his claim in the U.S.

Truly and odd notion that the American government should not own anything tangible. Truly odd.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 21, 2005 06:00 PM
Comment #105718

As usual, there are always ways to do things within the tennents of the constitution and basic rights to own property that don’t include the scenario you created, David.

A public trust could be created for donated lands, as all of the original DC was, that would effectively become controlled and managed by the government but not owned by it. However, there is a difference between donated land and acquired land…

But, for some reason, people think it’s ok for the government to just take land from it’s citizens and retain ownership of it. Yes, for specifically spelled out reasons the government can do that. But ‘creating a wildlife preserve’ is not one of them. Because then one day a majority (or in this case a super majority) could come in and do what they want with it.

If you want the land to be REALLY protected, wouldn’t it make sense to have it owned by a group like the Sierra Club (or better yet the Conservation Fund) who will not have a change in control over the land based on an election and ensure that it truly is protected?

Do you really think that having the ‘GOVERNMENT’ protect ANWR is a good idea? That one day in the future the government wouldn’t be controlled by oil interests one day and tear it up drilling for oil… oh wait a second.

Of course, according to Tony, that would be GREAT because the WE decided to do that with it. After all, majority rule, right?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 06:04 PM
Comment #105720

As far as my ideas on how we should develop the next generation of energy solutions: Let’s go for another Apollo project. The government, private interprise, universities… everyone dig in and make it happen.

We win on the environmental front, we win in the global market, we drastically reduce the funding stream for the Middle Eastern terrorist…

Or we can stat the course and see where that gets us…

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 06:06 PM
Comment #105721
Truly and odd notion that the American government should not own anything tangible. Truly odd.
That is a radical idea.

Radical? Odd?

Thomas Jefferson, in making the Louisiana Purchase, went against his beliefs, the beliefs (and constitution) of the government and struggled with the decision because it was the way the government was founded. (It was such a great deal though that he overrode is concerns about the constitutionality of it and agreed to the deal anyway). That we have changed as a society THAT much in 150 years to the point that it is considered a ‘radical odd idea’ is a little hard for me to understand.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 06:11 PM
Comment #105722

Tony,

You don’t think progress is being made on alternative fuel sources?

We have several hybrid cars now, hydrogen fuel cell cars are in production and being driven, advances in electrophotocells are making solar energy an economic reality, costing less than conventional energy like coal, wind power is finally being harnassed in an economical way as well.

What more do you want the people who have been working on this problem for a couple of decades to do?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 21, 2005 06:14 PM
Comment #105725

—-
Of course, according to Tony, that would be GREAT because the WE decided to do that with it. After all, majority rule, right?
—-

How does over-reaching my arguments help this discussion? You might disagree with what I have to say, but please stop putting words in my mouth.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 06:19 PM
Comment #105730

I agree that progress is being made, but at far too slow a pace. If we had actual market costs associated with oil, then we would have stronger market pressures for these alternatives. We also need to put large sums of money and urgency behind this process. Again, this isn’t just an environmental issue. If we get beat to market with this, then we had all better start learning to speak a foreign language…

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 06:31 PM
Comment #105762

The amount of oil in ANWR at the rate this country is using it, comes to about a year to a year and a half. Respected Petroleum geologists have been saying this for some time. To tear up one of the world’s last pristine areas(assuming, with global warming and pollution, anything can still be called pristine)for what amounts to greed is sheer lunacy. And we will hear it all—‘we need it for national security, we need it for jobs, it will jump-start the economy, it will help get us off our dependence on foreign oil, etc.etc.etc.” For a year-and-a-half’s worth of oil?

From what I’ve been reading about the coming oil crisis, cheap oil will be a thing of the past. Our civilization should have been thinking seriously about alternative fuel sources 5o years ago. We haven’t. There is no alternative fuel in place that can be used now or in ten years that will give us a ‘soft, seamless landing’ into a new world energy source. Iraq isn’t about spreading democracy, it isn’t about fighting terrorism—it’s about oil. It is the opening salvo in a long, bloody struggle for dwindling resources. For a time, it will be oil, in five or ten years, it will be water, in fifteen years it will be land.

I believe in the concept of the commons. The shared legacy of natural, untouched beauty for all of us. It will ultimately fail, because this country has sold out to capitalism and greed. But, perhaps as a nation, we ought to see, if for once, we can say, “NO, this land must be untouched!” Just to see if we still have it within ourselves to care for something greater than all of us. Let’s see if we can for once, take care of something, instead of exploiting it just because we can.

Everything this administration stands for is predicated on fear—fear of terrorists, fear of economic reversal, fear of a free press, fear of religious tolerance. Fear, Fear, Fear. I’m sick of it—and I suspect most citizens (not consumers, not voters,) are getting mighty tired of it, too. We either believe in ourselves and each other, or we will die cringing in our beds.

This ANWR drilling issue is such an issue—one driven by fear, ignorance and greed.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 21, 2005 08:53 PM
Comment #105764

When I was in college, my friends and I got very excited about the Alaska pipeline. I told anyone who would listen to me that it would disrupt the caribou migrations and permanently destroy the environment. Today, the caribou are more numerous than before the pipeline.

I am not saying that development does not change and sometimes damage the environment. But we have to get oil (and all resources) from somewhere. We need to be careful everywhere we go. The Artic is not a bad place to get oil. Firms have experience in these climates. They have learned to make roads and installations on the ice in the winter. In the summer when the ice melts there is little damage.

There is no reason to make such a big area off limits. It is not more valuable than other similarly sized parts of the earth. The drilling can be done without significant damage. The argument against it is circular and essentially religious: we should not develop in this area because we have not developed in this area. Followed by the religious part - we don’t have the right to violate this region.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 09:11 PM
Comment #105768

Jack -

You are saying that we should spoil (or heavily risk spoiling) one of the last remaining untouched areas of our world for such a pathetic reason as a little bit more oil. This is an extremely short term and short sighted solution to a problem it will not even attempt to alleviate. It will take 10 years or more for any exploration to start producing oil… and best guess estimates, it might provide us with 6% of our annual need for oil. all of this is unknown, to be sure, but why take the chance? If you think oil producers are so gentle to the land, check out the massive issues they are facing in Canada, as well… remember the Valdese?

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 09:30 PM
Comment #105774

Vice President Cheney said a few years ago that ” the American way of life is non-negotiable.” Guess what else is non-negotiable? The natural, immutable laws of a bio-sphere. If you rape it, pollute it, wring out every last resource for the God-almighty buck, there will be consequences. We are dealing with many of them now—soaring rates of cancer, asthma and lung-related diseases, growing immunity of pests to antibiotics and pesticides, the increased degradation of water, of seeds for food…we may find our non-negotiable way of life and our arrogance as a species, will get us all killed.

Don’t worry, the scientists will think of something. Yeah, sure…and we’ll go arm-in-arm into the new American century—the one that is being so ‘intelligently designed’ for us by our government.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 21, 2005 09:59 PM
Comment #105778

Jack:

Don’t get me wrong. I think you are absolutly right—ANWR will be drilled, as sure as you and I are sitting here. It would take a fool to deny that this Congress and this administration would sit still for any devolution of capitalist rights to do whatever is ‘good for the country’, not to mention their bank accounts and their ‘constituents’. So, yes, the bill will pass, tucked away in some critical piece of legislation, when the press and the American people aren’t looking, like a thief in the night.

And on January 20th, 2009, we will still have troops in Iraq, and maybe Syria and Iran too, because this country has been shanghied by corporate interests that have wrapped themselves in the flag and flushed the Constitution and civil liberties down the toilet.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 21, 2005 10:12 PM
Comment #105785

Tim

That is the religious part I was talking about. The environment does work in certain ways. But characterizing this as immutable laws is a mischaracterization. Sometimes we can improve on nature. Now I know that statement has set off alarm bells, but ask yourself why. Is it impossible to improve on nature? That would be a religious statement.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 10:31 PM
Comment #105791

.” Now I know that statement has set off alarm bells, but ask yourself why. Is it impossible to improve on nature? That would be a religious statement. “

We’re not talking religion here, we’re talking science. And if we were all that great as a species in improving things environmentally, why the hell are we in the fix we’re in now?

I don’t know if you are being intentionally obtuse, or if you’re just a plain moron. Just out of curiosity, what is your religion, since you seem to think I’m a religious fanatic for environmentalism? Capitalism? Or do you just want to drive to the store without mussing up your hair—forever?

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 21, 2005 10:58 PM
Comment #105798

Tim

I don’t have much hair to mess up.

Science is not what is motivating the protection of ANWAR. Of all the places on earth, is this the place you really believe is the most deserving of protection? If you accept that we have to extract resources anywhere on earth, why avoid this particular place?

The reason people are so enthusiastic about protecting ANWAR is because they think it has not been sullied by man. That is a point of faith not science.

I have been wandering nature for my entire life. I love forests and fields, but my thinking about them has changed. I used to like to wander lonely as a cloud. I didn’t want to see the signs of human kind in my forests. Maybe that was because there was little chance I would get my wish. I have changed my mind. I don’t really like wilderness in the sense of land without man. There was plenty of that in the countless eons before man and there will be plenty more after we are gone. Will “time” stop with nobody left to count the minutes, hours and years? It might sound arrogant to say that man is the measure of nature, but it is even more arrogant and downright ignorant for any human to say that he can understand nature in any other way. Raw nature is nasty, cold and incompressible. No human can respect nature in its natural state and it really doesn’t matter if we do. There is nothing the human race can do to add or detract from nature. If we managed what we arrogantly fear (but couldn’t really do) - if we destroyed the entire surface of the Earth, would that make any difference to a nature that encompasses an endless universe of worlds without end and billions of years of time at its disposal? Is there anything any of us could do that will make a difference a billion years hence? It would make a difference to humans in the here and now. We can only add or detract from the human interpretation of nature. Now I am happy to see signs of “good” human intervention and sometimes even the results of a bad intervention healed. More than a century ago, a great man-made catastrophe transformed N. Wisconsin. The great Peshtigo fire burned everything from the middle of the state to Lake Michigan. You can still see the signs in the type of vegetation and soils. We now call it old growth, but it results directly from inadvertent “bad” human intervention. The people living now benefit from this horrible tragedy of which most of them are unaware

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 11:41 PM
Comment #105801

A very evocative and picturesque argument. (Sorry about the hair, and the moron jab as well).

Every species on this earth, except pets and agricultural animals, would benefit from the human species disappearing off the face of the earth tomorrow—every one.

There is such a thing as animal rights—and I believe every time animals and vegetation lose out to human necessity, something in humankind dies.

Perhaps that is why you have the feelings of coldness and cruelty about the natural world. It becomes something to manipulate, to exploit, to defend yourself from, not something to work with.

In a billion years there are going to be alot of things that don’t really matter about our time here on earth. But the Native Americans, who loved this land as no others have, thought of the seventh generation and all the unborn, and what their rights are. It is a wisdom that we have nodded at, then ignored.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 22, 2005 12:20 AM
Comment #105802

As often happens, this is a debate so clouded by partisan loyalties and ingrained knee-jerk reactions that we miss the obvious though it’s staring us in the face.

The fact is that we use and require oil, and it’s going to come from somewhere until science provides us with feasible alternative sources. So what ever happened to the mantra of “Think globally,” one of the left’s favorites slogans (I thought).

Every gallon of oil that doesn’t come from this country will have to come from somewhere else—from places like Russia, the Middle East or South America, where environmental concerns rank FAR lower on the list of priorities than they do here.

And the places where THEY will find oil, are also natural areas filled with wildlife, trees, lakes and the like. Nobody in the world drills for oil in the middle of cities.

So we have a choice. Do we protect the environment to the maximum of our abilities when we extract oil from the earth or don’t we?

If exploration and oil drilling took place in ANWR it would have to take place with maximum care for the surrounding wildlife and landscape, and it would be done with the most advanced technologies known to man and with the maximum oversight anywhere on the planet.

If it’s not done, then others will move to meet the demand, and they won’t do so with the sensitivity to the environment that we should all agree is a priority.

Would it be better not to have to drill for oil at all, for us all to use less environmentally damaging sources of energy. Absolutely. So let’s make that day a reality. But until then, our oil is going to come out of the earth. One way or another. One place or another.

Posted by: sanger at December 22, 2005 12:20 AM
Comment #105809

I’d have thought with China buying up 20% of ME oil, and trying hard to get a larger amount of South American oil, and with India making deals all over the place to buy up much more, the ANWR would be a pretty good place to try and cut our 17% down and be a little more self-sufficent.

Both India and China have over 1 Billion people today and India is supposed to come in first with a whopping 1,628,000,000 by 2050 compared to the US’s estimate of 420,000,000.

While argueing for altinate energy sources is good, wouldn’t it be better to hedge our bets by drilling now and having an internal supply by the time China and India have taken an even larger slice of both the Central/South American oil and the ME oil and also spend like crazy into the research of altinates?

Posted by: Ynot at December 22, 2005 12:49 AM
Comment #105810

Tim

I used to care about the hair thing, but now I think it is just funny.

Re Native love of the land

Have you read about the Natchez Culture? They were mound builders, one of the best organized native cultures in N. America. Their society collapsed just before the first Europeans met them, evidently because - without a Native American Sierra Club to advise them - they denuded the forests and used up the available resources. They managed all this with just stone tools.

By the time European hunters arrived on the great plains more than 2/3 of the bison were gone. When the plains Indians got horses, they were able to more successfully hunt bison.

Or maybe the Maya are the great ones. You recall the people who destroyed their land’s ability to support their large population and then engaged in endless internecine violence.

Or maybe you are thinking of the Northwest tribes, who engaged in Potlatch, essentially destroying resources to show others how rich they were.

When people don’t have a written history, you can fill in all sorts of things. An oral culture can’t even accurately measure to the seventh generation.

Alot of the “respect” people show is just the result of not having the abilty to do othewise.

I don’t believe in destroying the environment (although I don’t believe in animal rights). I own a forest (178 ½ acres) which I manage for sustained productivity. I won’t allow cutting near the streams and the land is full or wildlife. I have planted trees literally all over the world and contributed thousands of dollars to the Nature Conservancy. BUT I don’t think that nature is sacred. I don’t think we should wantonly cut trees or kill animals, but I believe we should cut trees and kill animals. I allow - encourage - hunters on my land.

I think the difference between conservation and environmentalism is the element of religion. The actions might be very similar. There are parts of my land where the trees will never be cut as long as I am alive even though I could make a lot of money on them. But I recognize that it is just because I really like the trees. There is no morality beyond that.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 12:49 AM
Comment #105813

Sanger:

Thank you for your hard-nosed, pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to this problem. It is a stirring example of why we will all probably drown in our own industrial excrement.

This position of yours explains why humans are in the straights we are in. And when all the oil is gone, or at least, no longer cheap, then it will be survival of the fittest. And we’ll have a leg up on all those ignorant third-world brown types with all the WMD WE’RE sitting on.

You are correct— ideaology is a problem child, for us all. We all have our axes to grind, and our opinions to foist. As you survey this world around us and see the conditon that it is in, it is a snapshot of ideaology.

I have said earlier in the thread that ANWR will be exploited. I have 150 years of capitalism, and thousands of years of human folly to back me up.
The bill will come due very shortly—and our credit cards and tough talk about “well, that’s just the way it is” will be no comfort.

The attitude of this government is we’re going to drill our way out of this problem. Fourteen billion dollar tax incentives to the gas companies is going to solve the problem. They have consistently under-funded any reasonable research into alternative sources. After all, how’s that going to help their investers? Just like our President insisted that all requests for wiretaps under the Patriot Act would have warrents, he and his colleagues assure us that the drilling in ANWR will be spotless and consciencious. This industry and this government have a lousy track record for honesty and openess. So, you’ll excuse me if I have doubts in the veracity of their statements.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 22, 2005 01:09 AM
Comment #105818

Tim, our industrial, fuel-guzzling civilization was not something dreamed up in the last five years by the Bush adminstration. And it isn’t something that is just going to end when the Bush adminstraion passes into history.

Until the Bush adminstration is gone, and long after it is, the law of supply of demand will require that we secure large amounts of oil from somewhere. I too hope that we eventually find other means, but that day is still far in the future.

Until then, we have a choice of exerting some influence over the process of drilling for oil while bringing our environmental concerns to the table, or of just buying virtually all of our fuel from companies and nations elsewhere who will move into natural areas with none of the oversight or sensitivity that we would bring.

It’s not a choice between raping the earth and leaving it pristine. It’s like demanding meat and vegetables while trying to ban ranches and farms.

So it IS a hard nosed and pragmatic choice, and in the real world, unlike an ideological fantasy land, these hard choices are real and have to be made. If we don’t make them, others are going to make them for us.

Posted by: sanger at December 22, 2005 01:44 AM
Comment #105820

All the conservative arguments above boil down to expedience. All opposing arguments boil down to a value placed on one of the few (NOT MANY as Jack suggested) places on earth where humans can enjoy the earth mostly as nature would have it without human intervention. Misha asked how many here would actually ever visit ANWR. We are planning an extended vacation to Alaska and ANWR is on our list of places to camp for a few days. I paid my taxes for ANWR, and I damn well don’t want some Oil company security force telling me I can’t go anywhere I choose on that public land I paid for.

BUT, even if we never get to ANWR, the National Geographic photo journalism of the area and their TV programming have been a way that all in my family have visited ANWR, and having done so only through photos and TV programming, we believe it is a place to be preserved as it is. There is no doubt that an actual visit would increase that belief many fold.

This is a value decision, both real and symbolic. Real in that the whole value system of protecting and supporting our earth with our existence sits on one side, and consumption of it till it refuses to sustain us any longer in the name of profit, sits on the other.

Symbolic, in that ANWR and the S. American Rainforests represent the focal points for two even more basic ideologies. Mankind is inherently good on the one side, and mankind is inherently bad on the other. These two schools of thought are philsophical and as Jack points out, even religiously based. Christianity teaches that Man was created good but went bad of his volition and must work to recapture his grace with God. For many Christians, protecting ANWR and the Rainforests which help support the earth’s processes and balance man’s effects on it, is a worthy Christian goal. Afterall, God created the earth, and who is man to destroy or plunder it to exhaustion greedily, wastefully, and for purely selfish gain?

On the other hand, there are those who believe that mankind is inherently good and if given the knowledge and choice of a good decision over a bad one, exploiting the earth without care, vs. exploiting the earth with care, mankind will exercise care. Contrary to those who say we can and will exercise care in drilling ANWR, stands the Exxon Valdez and the bay it destroyed, which to this day, has still not completely recovered from that accident.

If the day comes, when the survial of our nation’s people depends directly and inextricably on the last possible choice of drilling in ANWR, an argument can be made that it would be good to so by virtue of necessity. But, as long as untapped alternatives like raising CAFE standards would yield far more oil than ANWR could produce in the same number of years to acquire and exhaust the oil reserves in ANWR, drilling in ANWR can only be justified by greed. And greed is not a sufficient reason to divide our nation, endanger a public trust, and pave the way for even further commercialization of public trusts using ANWR as precedent.

ANWR was paid for by all Americans, and therefore, belongs as it is, to all Americans. The Government is obligated to hold that land in trust for the people, unless and until, an overwhelming majority of the Americans who invested in it, decide differently. Who are these few who would say their profit stake in what lies beneath that wilderness is greater than the public’s right to preserve it as is, having paid for the right to do so, already?

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 22, 2005 02:12 AM
Comment #105827

Sanger:

So it IS a hard nosed and pragmatic choice, and in the real world, unlike an ideological fantasy land, these hard choices are real and have to be made. If we don’t make them, others are going to make them for us.

I posit that the decisions have already been made for us—by capitalists. That is why we’re here now, discussing whether we will drill in ANWR or anywhere else. A myopia, predicated on greed. We will not find an altervative solution to our energy problems without great, and possibly cataclysmic pain for humankind. I’m not much into ‘end of the world’ type talk. But I’m having a hard time seeing how we’re going to get ourselves out of this one.

Of course this problem existed long before Bush became president, and of course, I’m not laying this problem entirely at his feet. (But his daddy, and his granddaddy may have been part of the problem—that is, the real human failing of not planning ahead.) But he, Cheney and others in the adminsitration are oil men. This gives them an ideaological bent and policy prejudice that is hard to ignore.

I have already said that ANWR will be drilled. I believe you and others want to ‘win the winning’ in this discussion—another words, to feel not only right and practical, but to project an auroa of tough-minded, no-nonsense patriotism about it. You are welcome to it. I’m going to bed.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 22, 2005 02:23 AM
Comment #105837

Misha,

but keep in mind that the in both the House and Senate, representatives of the majority of the American people support drilling in ANWR. The only reason it was defeated is because a minority succeeded in a filibuster in the Senate.
You are wrong on both counts. Tony already quoted this article dealing with the solidifying public opinion against drilling in ANWR, but the notion that majorities of both houses favor drilling is also wrong. McCain was only one example of a Senator on record as having voted for cloture in spite of strong disagreement with including the ANWR language due to his interest in passing the troop support.

Granted, majority opinion does not necessarily make something right, but …

Your dismissive tone regarding the “religiosity” of those who oppose this development is uncalled for. There is evidence that arctic areas are far more fragile than temperate zones, and history certainly should have taught us that full steam ahead development CAN have unintended downstream consequences. There are plenty of cases where we would have been well served to go much more slowly in development. I’ll grant that there are times when environmental purity on some issue leads to irrational policy, (small amounts of DDT in Africa should be allowed to fight malaria and real human suffering, for instance) but with ANWR the “win” of development is a short term economic one, while the cost could be a very long term degradation of a pristine environment.

I’m not going to “religiously” say we should take it off the table completely forever, but I sure don’t see what the hurry is. The hurry should be in developing alternative renewable sources of energy for our shared global future. My own Congressman Inslee has played a major role in pushing forward the Apollo Alliance which is a practical approach to move forward with vision.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at December 22, 2005 03:09 AM
Comment #105875

As well, I thought Katrina would’ve taught people the lesson that it’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature. No one seemed that concerned about the loss of wetlands… until they got washed away because of the lack of natural buffers. There are hundreds of areas within this ecosystem (ANWR) that could make the NO disaster look small by comparison.

So again - what’s the point is all the risk for little or no gain?

Posted by: tony at December 22, 2005 09:30 AM
Comment #105913

David:

I understand your desire to have ANWR stay pristine. I’d guess you felt the same feelings about the Alaskan Pipeline as well, though the dire predictions of ecological ruin don’t seem to have come true.

My question for you is this: Where do you get more oil from?

We need oil for the world economy. We also need to move away from oil to alternative energy sources. But in the process, we still need oil. And to produce it, we need to drill and explore somewhere. Seems there is a big case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) going on, since people in adjoining the Gulf of Mexico don’t want additional rigs there, etc.

Look at Yucca Mountain as an example. People want alternative fuels, with nuclear energy being a prime option. Yet no one wants the waste near them. Yucca is possibly the best place to put it, unless you happen to be near Yucca. The question is whether there is ANY truly good place to dump nuclear waste or to drill for oil.

Do you have any suggestions?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 22, 2005 10:25 AM
Comment #105923

The trouble is that we are not talking about risk versus gain or cost versus benefit.

There are plenty of places we should leave alone or restore. Ironically, the “best” places are often those that are most developed precisely because of what they are. If you count living organism, there is probably more life in a shovel full of dirt from the Shenandoah Valley than in an acre of ANWAR.

I have advocated the restoration of wetlands in and around New Orleans. In this case the benefit to nature and the economy of restoring this to nature makes very much sense. I would not, however, advocate kicking people out entirely. People and their activities are part of the landscape.

Man shaped most “natural” landscapes. The Native American habit of regularly starting fires created the “virgin” landscape Europeans found when they arrived. Neolithic man clearing the original forests made the great beech forests of central Europe possible. The green and pleasant landscape of England is entirely the interaction of humans changing the local environment. The “natural” landscapes of China are so much a human creation that paleobotanists are not even sure what kind of environment would be there absent humans. We are in this whether we like it or not.

Maybe you are familiar with Isle Royale in Lake Superior. The U.S. border juts north to include the island. The U.S. got the place as a result of Ben Franklin, who thought (for not particular reason) that it had copper deposits. For a long time it supported the most healthy wolf packs in North America. But when the island became a park, and the park service started to “preserve” it, the wolf packs declined. As the environments changed from forest edge patches to mature forest, the food supply dwindled. Or consider the case of the Kirkland warbler. It nests only in jack pines and jack pines grow only after hot fires. As we suppress fires, they die out. Or an interesting case of the ivory bill woodpecker. It thrived in forests that burned regularly because it prefers live tree. In the “natural” (Native Americans starting fires) southern environment fires destroyed dead trees. Now they don’t. The twist here is that this bird suffers competition from other woodpeckers. So our effect is indirect. The environment we create helps other woodpeckers, who in turn destroy the ivory bills. Of what about puffins and seagulls? Our cities encourage seagull populations who then go to isolate islands in greater numbers and destroy the puffin population through their aggressive habits. The natural environment does not always provide optimal results and there really is no environment we don’t impact anyway.

So what do we do? It is not possible to set anything aside in this interrelated world. IF the costs (environmental and economic) exceed the benefits of drilling in ANWAR, don’t do it. But we should at least figure it out. Taking it off the table just because it has previously been off the table makes no sense.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 10:33 AM
Comment #105937

Is there no support for coal as an alternative fuel source. Coal = Electricity
Coal = Liquid transportation fuel
Coal = Cheap Fuel
Coal = Enormous resources
Coal = Immediately available
Coal = Creates jobs
Coal = Reduces dependency on import
of foreign oil.

It has been proven that coal in one of its many compositions is capable of being produced into fuel that will run automobiles, heat homes and other residential and commercial buildings.

Now,it can be argued that coal is ugly and it is high on the environmental pollution list. This can be overcome given the technology available at this time.

Posted by: steve smith at December 22, 2005 10:56 AM
Comment #105946

MISHA
Going to law school, now there’s a real waste of time, we need more lawyers like….. we need more politicians (hmmmm and most of them are or were Lawyers!!! ouch!!)
It is not your job to support the development of alternatives, but it IS your JOB to determine that ruining ANWR is OK?
I am VERY SAD for you
To have such a limited, self-centered (human-centric) view of the world that is shallow and devoid of full understanding and comprehension.
Just because in YOUR opinion there is NO HUMAN use for ANWR, then it is OKEY DOKEY to RUIN it.
We have been devouring all existing habitat in our rapacious efforts to exploit EVERY SQUARE INCH of soil for our own selfish needs.
The Sonoran Desert has been and is being ruined in the same way.
We live on this planet with other life forms, and the human arrogance that places our well-being above all others (and to the expense of all others) will eventually lead to our extinction.
Cockroaches were around before humans and they (and others) will be around long after we’re gone.
Get over it.
The Human Species is NOT the center of the Universe!!

Posted by: Russ at December 22, 2005 11:12 AM
Comment #105949

Joe Donuts
You said
I understand your desire to have ANWR stay pristine. I’d guess you felt the same feelings about the Alaskan Pipeline as well, though the dire predictions of ecological ruin don’t seem to have come true

Hate to burst your bubble, but
They have come true, it is just your beloved MSM doesn’t publicize the fact
The air quality, water quality etc around the drill sites almost qualify them as superfund sites
There are monthly chemical and oil spills, contamination of the sites, fish and animal kills.

This is an example of Ignorance is Bliss — as long as people don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist.

ya might just want to learn something before you shoot your keyboard off on something you know nothing about.

Posted by: Russ at December 22, 2005 11:19 AM
Comment #105952

Bundling of laws together is the same as making really good names for laws… to the people that don’t read enough or understand how these things work… it can be used to beat the oppostion about the head in 30 second commercials.

If you attach drilling of the wildlife preserve to the military budget then they can say you voted against the military budget and are weak on defense…

If you object to the Patriot Act because of one or two provisions then you are surrendering to the terrorists….

If you object to faith based involvement in schools or mandating to the states testing requirements then you are against “No Child Being Left Behind.”

As far as the usefulness of the ANWR… Americans used the justification that the Native Americans weren’t “using” the land so it was being wasted if it wasn’t being developed in the means as the defined the usefulness of land.

Some believe that land has no intrinsic value as it is. It is only valued based upon what can be exploited from it.

What is the total addition to the energy conumption of this country if we drill? 1 year? 2 years? 10 years? What would be the benefit of reducing consumption by the consumers if we made our cars 10% more efficient? 20% more efficient?

Does drilling in the ANWR serve a long term goal of energy independence or move the date out a bit? We could find 100 years of oil under the ground… but does that really change anything? We could find 200 years worth of oil but again, does that change anything?

The bottom line is, regardless of when the oil runs out it will run out. We are in an enclosed system here on earth. What we have now is what we will have in the future (however far into the future we can stretch it).


Misha Tseytlin,

If you could show why it is so illogical and frustrating then it would help to define the argument.

1) The land is not being used by man so it has no value?

2) If I have not personally been to a place then it is unimportant?

3) If you are saying that it is only a chance to EXPLORE… are you saying that it is okay because we just want to know? After we know are you saying that we won’t actully drill? If the exploring does disrupt the wildlife there and we are just EXPLORING so we can satisfy our curiosity, then is it worth it?

4) We need to continue to consume as much as we want to preserve our way of life?
(Is this limited to oil or does it include any other non-renewable resource?)

5) Our way of life defined by the type of vehicle we drive and its fuel mileage?

I see that part of your justification is that it is benefical to the consumer by keeping the price low. This is an excellent argument because if a person wants to argue it then that person can be called “Communist”, “Marxist”, “Socialist” or some other “ist” because the only acceptable one is “Capitalist”. These are one of my favorites because it marries together Democracy which is a political belief system with Capitalism which is an economic belief system.

As a soon to be lawyer you object to symbolism? Couldn’t that be considered an abstract idea being illustrated by a concrete image? Is that not what law is? Taking the abstract of Justice and making it concrete in terms of individual instances or circumstances? Isn’t the blind lady with the scales a symbol of Justice?

Possibly, if land is of no value to you because you cannot use it for your personal values… maybe you could understand that it is of value to some of us specifically because it is not being used for commercial value?

There are those of us in America who do not value everything based upon a dollar amount. A sunrise. Clean air. Clear running water. A place where a wolf can run.

If I have to chose between cheaper gas or a world where my grandchildren can know there is some unspoiled land somewhere in this world… then call me any name you wish.

The home you live in may be of more commercial value if it is turned into a supermarket but it is of value to you.

Maximization of profit is not the goal of all Americans yet they are still Americans with a right to their opinion and the right to work towards influencing American Politicans.

There are limits that industry must abide by… limits on pollution, product safety, ethics…

Discussing the value of land, which you believe holds no interest in, is not symbolic or anti-oil/big business.

As a person working to be a laywer I find it intersting that you would want to consider the discussion in such terms as “illogical, frustrating and pointless.”

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 11:23 AM
Comment #105954

I am really tired of the focus on all of this being HUMAN CENTRIC.
I am tired of the arrogant disregard for the fact that this planet is inhabited by other species that have just as much right to thrive as we do.

What gives US the right to endanger the survival of another species for OUR COMFORT and CONVENIENCE??
SURVIVAL of the HUMAN species is NOT DEPENDENT on the dribble of oil under ANWR
SURVIVAL of some of the species that LIVE AND FLOURISH in the Arctic DO depend on that habitat.
SO WHAT IF NO HUMAN EVER VISITS ANWR??? IS THAT THE ONLY MEASURE OF VALUE????
HOW SHALLOW, ARROGANT, CONCEITED, SELFISH AND JUST PLAIN STUPID! (LET ALONE A MEASURE OF JUST HOW BLIND WE ARE AS A SPECIES)

JUST BECAUSE YOU WON’T PERSONALLY HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE EFFECTS OF THE RUIN (BUT YOU GET TO ENJOY THE BENEFITS) IT IS OK — THAT ATTITUDE MAKES ME SICK!

Posted by: Russ at December 22, 2005 11:28 AM
Comment #105959

Darren7160
Nice Post — thank you for your points and thoughts!!

Posted by: Russ at December 22, 2005 11:32 AM
Comment #105963

Hi Jack,

You mention Wisconisn and I find that intersting because I live in Wisconsin. The fire you mention is interesting because Wisconin used to be entirely covered in trees in a somewhat cresent arc from La Crosse to Green Bay.

It not longer is. As matter of fact, the only really clear illustraion of what Wisconsin use to look like before it was clear cut is the Menominee Reservation. The delination between the forrest and the surrounding area is so clear that NASA and other agencies use it to calibrate their spy satilites (no matter how I spell that it doesn’t look right. Oh well).

This reservation is a sustainable forest program initiated by the tribe that lives there. They take the trees that are dead, dying or need to be taken to create a balance in the forrest. Not what is commercially profitable at the particular moment.

They have been so successful that some lumber companies are trying to convince the state government to allow them access to these woods.

Now, all the trees were used up without regard to sustainability.

A portion of woods were saved and because useful because of sustainability…

Now, becuase of this lumber companies want to go in and take those trees.

To the pragmatist who say that we need to deal with reality and not ideals… where is the pressure to come from that will decrease our dependance on oil if we do not stop consuming as if there is an unlimited supply?

I absolutely believe in reality. We might disagree on what is the relevane reality. One says that the reality is we need to consume until there is an alternative… another reality is that there is a limited quantity of oil and we need to face that and do something now while we have time. That to me seems just as valid of a statement of reality as any.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 11:40 AM
Comment #105964

Sanger left us with a real “laugher” in the name of being “pragmatic and hard-nosed”
He wrote:
If exploration and oil drilling took place in ANWR it would have to take place with maximum care for the surrounding wildlife and landscape, and it would be done with the most advanced technologies known to man and with the maximum oversight anywhere on the planet.


It took me ten minutes to quite laughing on THAT one!!
Hey Sanger, if you REALLY BELIEVE THAT LINE OF BULL I have some “prime” waterfront property in New Orleans to sell you!!

Posted by: Russ at December 22, 2005 11:43 AM
Comment #105971

Misha

“Tony, i am simply saying that artificially decreasing the supply of any good the American people purchase is harmful because they have to pay more of their money for that good. I am saying if we want symbolism, pick something that is innocuous.”

We know that your values are based on money. That is clear and I can understand that…

Money is used to assess relative value to an item or service. It, in itself, is but a piece of paper. Therefore, money is SYMBOLIC of a value that we place on something. Also, basic ECON 101. Money has no intrinsic value. Only symbolic.

I have a business degree from CSUB and about an additional 100 semester hours (indluding graduate classes in Education) from UWO in social science.

What I cannot understand is what use is there in making a stand against something that is innocuous? Isn’t that kinda of silly?

We may only aruge or discuss something if it doesn’t matter?

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 11:54 AM
Comment #105988

With the discussion of who should develop alternative energy and the whole issue of “first to market” with such technology, I will say that I am a firm believer in letting the free market run its course. I am going to fly over this at 35,000 feet without too much detail, but the overall trends hold true.

- Auto: Toyota and Honda are pummeling Ford and GM due to their foresight that fuel efficiency (read: hybrids, better mileage) holds more value to the consumer in an era of rising oil and gas prices than do big, inefficient trucks and SUV’s. Ford and GM have failed to see that demand and are now suffering for it, while Toyota and Honda are riging the register.

- Other alternative energy: I am speaking in generalities here, but look at the investment by companies in renewables. GE has its whole “ecomagination” program, where it builds and markets more efficient and less polluting products (jet engines, locomotives, etc) as well as its wind turbines, solar, and clean coal. BP and a few other “Big Oils” have invested a few billion in renewable energy R&D. Solar specialty companies like Evergreen Solar and SunPower are relatively new to the market, but growing…fast. Just take a look at the correlation between oil prices and the performance of the publicly traded alternative energy companies…as oil had its run, so have the stock prices of the alternative energy plays.

Investors are realizing that as long as the price of oil stays high, the probability of the alternative energy outfits are going to grow. The R&D is not the issue because it’s there and investment is growing. The issue is where it becomes cost effective relative to oil. If government (state, local, federal) wants to help out, the best thing to do is provide tax incentives for businesses and individuals for R&D and to switch to alternative sources (i.e. photovoltaic panels for electricity, etc). Also since the technology is being developed over a wide spectrum of industries and regions, whomever is “first to market” will not necessarily have dominance.

The tide is turning, and the market will dictate how fast.


FYI- This is my first post here, so be gentle.

Posted by: Greg the Underwriter at December 22, 2005 12:12 PM
Comment #105992

Greg

Excellent post!

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 12:14 PM
Comment #106004

Darren

I studied forestry at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. I used to be a volunteer teacher on the Stockbridge reservaton (next to the Menominee) Great State. Are you in Madison? I went there too. Used to live on Johnson St. Always ate at the ORIGINAL Rocky Roccocco.

Wisconsin forests are in good health and the reservation was not spared the ax or the fires. All Wisconsin forests are secondary (or more) growth. The north is covered in pine and mixed hardwood that grew up after the timber interests left the state. You can do sustainable forestry in Wisconsin and responsible companies are doing it. The problem is the cold weather. I can grow pine trees in Virginia in 1/3 less time than someone could do that in Wisconsin. In real time that amounts to around fifteen years. They can do it even faster with loblolly in place like Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

Let me give some forestry facts. Most of the timber used in the U.S. today is grown in plantations. Plantation grown southern pine (loblolly, slash and longleaf) provide 58% of all the wood we use in the country and more than 15% of the total world demand. Each day we grow enough southern pine to build 2000 houses. It is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Our forestlands actually benefit from deposits of farm and municipal sewerage. That is real recycling. Solve a problem by creating a benefit.

But there are good reasons to forest in other places too and the forestry methods you say the Menominee follow are not always appropriate.

If you do selective cutting, you allow only shade tolerant species to grow in the next generation. That means you don’t get douglas fir and most pines. The need full sun and mineral soils. There is also the temptation to “high grade”. That means you take trees when they are big enough to be harvested. This sounds good, but is very bad. Over time you take the genetically superior trees (that grow faster and stronger) and leave the runts to propagate the next generation. Sometimes it is a good thing to clear out whole sections.

Long run around the fact that if we are to live on this planet we can and should manage nature. There is no alternative.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 12:21 PM
Comment #106031

Hi Jack,

Actually, I am a bit more up the NE… Oskhosh and Green Bay area.

Even within the reservation there is debate at times about maximizing profits as to benefit the tribe versus the way that they are currently managing the forest.

This, to me, is a healthy debate that ensures that all sides are honest and continually working towards improvement.

A look through the Menominee website about their sustainability program shows that they do understand the issues such as shade requirements, soil type and location as well as many other issues. They determine what is to be harvested and planted based upon what is best for the forest… not what is best for the marketplace.

While attending UWO I went to an Earth Day meeting of the Menominee tribe and they discussed all these issues. They did talk about the shade, the soil, the healthy versus the unhealthy, the proportion of one species to another for balance.

Here we are talking about managing our resources for the improvement of humanity. Profit is welcome as a means of determining what our companies should be working towards and hope that the impact is benefical or minimal.

ANWR drilling, even for exploration as some argue, is harmful to the ANWR. The oil drilling rigs do not magically appear by themsevles. They require roads, buildings and supporing facilities.

These roads and other parts are the parts that will disturb the wild life there. It isn’t a matter of whether or not there will be spills or pipelines.

I think that there needs to be debate over whether or not any location is fair game. Are there limits to the damage that we might inflict?

We are not talking only about necessary disruption but the accidental disruption to the area. It might be possible to manage the disruption to the wild life but what about the accidents? They are called accidents because they were not planned.

Technology and the exercise of care were not enough to protect 3 Miles Island, Love Canal, Bophol, EXXON Valdeze, Katrina or many other disasters. Yes, we would use our most advanced technology we have today, but each of the above listed disasters were using the most advanced technology at the time.

I know that some might call it unfair to bring up these tragedies because there were different circumstances and all, but one of the often quoted justification of studying history is that if we don’t learn from our mistakes we are bound to repeat them.

It concerns me that there are some that believe that discussion and the proposal of limits on what we consume as a nation are considered an “ism”.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 12:47 PM
Comment #106049

Darren

The question is still one of where. We will use natural resources. Where do you want to get them? One reason I quoted all the pine statistics is to show that more than half of our wood comes from tree farms in one place. That means you can leave other trees alone. Now what if I decide to cut out a big section of my trees and the local environmentalists come by to protest and take pictures. It will look very bad at the time and for a couple years later. But it is also a good sustainable practice.

As long as we use resources, we will have mistakes and spills. Nasty as it sounds, a spill like the Exxon is better in Prince William Sound than Puget Sound or Long Island Sound.

So I agree that we should trend lighter, but with three caveats.

1.Sometimes things that look bad (like some clear cuts etc) are not.
2.Everything comes from somewhere. We should decide the best places, not let it be decided by the autocorrelation of history.
3.Nothing can be left alone. Everything is affected by human decisions, no matter how remote. It is better if we take the responsibility for sound management rather than pretend that we can just wall it off.

Re the Menominee - I expect they are doing a good job. But so are most other forest owners in your state and around the country. Forestry has a code of ethics. Most people who own forests do so out of a mixture of love of trees and need to make money. The two are not incompatible. When you own the land, you want to make sure it stays good for yourself and you children (I am a little suspicious of old guys without children, but most people have some incentive.)

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 01:12 PM
Comment #106074

Jack
Your logic totally fails me
As long as we use resources, we will have mistakes and spills. Nasty as it sounds, a spill like the Exxon is better in Prince William Sound than Puget Sound or Long Island Sound.

let’s see, it is better to ruin something that is pristine than a body of water that is already polluted????

We have tons of traffic in Puget Sound and do suffer our share of spills, additionally we are already dealing with the effects of toxins in the water due to human habitation on the land surrounding the body of water.
Additionally, due to the proximity of population, industry, etc we have an infrastructure readily available that is prepared to respond and limit the effects of a spill. That infrastructure was PROMISED for Prince William Sound (part of that Protection for the Environment that you and others are PROMISING for ANWR) — but was neglected and not able to respond in time to limit the damage.

(I cannot speak to Long Island Sound, but I know it CAN’T be Pristine)

Why is an oil spill in a PRISTINE, unspoiled, remote body of water that is not really prepared to respond BETTER than the same spill in an INDUSTRIAL body of water that is fully prepared to respond and handle it???

Posted by: Russ at December 22, 2005 01:49 PM
Comment #106113

Darren7160- please keep your opinions on what you think my value system is to yourself, we do not do that on these boards.

As for what you should take a stand on- by all means, oppose Bush on the many actual harms he is doing. Do not take your stand on something that benefits NO ONE and is PURE symbolism, while hurting actual people. A bad place to take your stand.

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at December 22, 2005 02:32 PM
Comment #106118

Jack,

The trees within a lumber companies boundaries that they are growing in support of their business is great. However, the ANWR is not such a situation. It does belong to the American people as a whole, and that calls for varying interests having a say in its use or non-use.

History is not a one-to-one correlation. I would never expect it to be. But, if we ignore the clear cutting at the turn of the century, the strip mining, the assurances of safety from the disasters I menioned above then we lose the value of the lessons we have learned.

The lumber industry did not create the sustainable forests they have now because it was in their orignial best interests… look at the woodlands of Wisconisn before and after 1850. The managed growth we have now is because of the excess defostestation. They were running out of natural resources and had to finally develop their own.

What I really object to is the assumtions of people like Misha that because land is not being exploited it doesn’t have value. Value of land may be expressed in ways other than the ability of an American company to make a maximum profit from it.

In the long run, which is better for America? Lessening our dependance on non-renewable resrouces (which is oil… we may find more but ultimately it cannot be renewed) that are unlike trees, by decresing consumption. More fuel efficient cars, better inlsulation and contstuction techniques, more effient appliances, less packaging… a whole host of things that can extend our supply of oil…

Darn, I hate to use this… but would you give an alcoholic a liver transplant if that person was still drinking? Or, would it be a waste of a valuable organ?

America is addicted to oil and demands more to meet their needs. Bigger autos requiring more gas… we will kick the habit someday, but for now let’s feed the addiction. They are not even trying to cut back on consumption as part of a rational goal towards being responsible… let us cut back and explore and work together…

If we focused on what we can do individually and as a nation to reduce our dependnace then we would not be held hostage to a finite amount of oil…

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 02:42 PM
Comment #106126

It is just how much relative damage is done. The fact that something is not already polluted is important, but is only one of the factors.

Puget or Long Island Sound (and I chose them only because of parallel terms, BTW) are not saturated with pollution such that a tanker spill would not make them much worse. I believe the damage and the cost of cleanup would have been greater in these places.

There is significant dispute about the damage in Prince William sound. Much of the disagreement is driven by lawsuits. The oil was almost completely gone a couple years later. You can still find signs of it if you look for it, but you have to look hard. The salmon population quickly recovered. Wildlife returned. Much of the actual damage was caused by the cleanup (high pressure hoses and hot water). We learned from some of those mistakes.

As of today, it is hard to tell Prince William Sound is not “pristine” (if you like the word.)

And this - BTW - was the WORST oil spill in U.S. history, not something that happens all the time.

And a modern ship, with or without a drunken captain, would not spill like that.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 02:53 PM
Comment #106133

Saddam Hussein on purpose released 460 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf and set the oil wells of Kuwait on fire. This was the worst overall ecological “spill” with oil in the history of the world.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 02:59 PM
Comment #106140

Darren

Re ecology

I have written before that gas cost a lot, maybe $5 a gallon. That is the only way we conserve. But when the prices rise, people cry and politicans work to lower them.

The return of the Eastern forests is the great unsung success story of the 20th century. It shows the resilience of nature. There are more trees growing E. of the Mississipi than at any time since around 1820.

Look at pictures from the Civil War and look at those same places today. You will notice more trees. Go to Lexington and Concord and see where the British retreated. There was no place for them to hide. Now they would be among the trees.

The U.S. environment is much cleaner now than when I was young. You can swim in the Potomac. Lake Michigan is too cold, but you can swim ther too without coming out oily (as I did a generation ago) Groups interested in making money from donations won’t tell you that, but hunters know there are a lot more deer, turkeys, bears. Cougars are becomming a problem. Forests are back all over the place. Be happy for it.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 03:10 PM
Comment #106177

Jack, if you studied forestry, then you know that much of the information you studied was politically biased from both sides. Go Oregon and it is all the more so.

But, that is not the issue. The real issue is whether all of America is for sale. ANWR represents something America decided, and the majority of Americans still agree, is worth leaving untouched by development or commercial interests. We posted a NOT FOR SALE sign on it when we declared it a Wildlife Refuge.

So, the issue is one between the American people, and a minority interest group which seeks to remove the Not For Sale sign in order to profit from it. That is the issue.

Seems clear as the noon day sun to me, that the American people within a democratic form of government, should win on this issue. If they don’t, then America is not a democracy and the people don’t mean shit to those in government.

That, Jack, is the issue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 22, 2005 03:42 PM
Comment #106236

Jack -

Sorry, but it’s a crock to think the forests 200 years ago pale in comparison to those today. It’s called tree farming… it’s called old growth verses soft woods…

Just because you bulldoze a 100,000 acres, then plant it back with pines - you end up with 100x trees, but do you really think it’s the same?

Posted by: tony at December 22, 2005 05:08 PM
Comment #106245

Most of the new growth is secondary hardwood, as you find from New England to the Carolinas. There is nothing wrong with plantation pine in any case. The wildlife loves it. It holds the soil and absorbs the waste products.

I also am not talking about trees, but total acres. Do a literary or historical tour. Vistit, for example, Concord MA. Go see Emerson’s house, the Alcot place and Walden Pond. Now read the descriptions of what it was like back then. Visit Robert Frosts farm where he wrote about the stone wall. It now separates thick hardwood forest from thick hardwood forest. Or look at pictures of civil war battlefields. You can’t picture the battle of Gettysburg because there are trees all over the place that were not there in 1863. More trees now. In fact it is a problem for preservationists. If you want to maintain a historical site, what do you do about all the trees.

My wife’s family farm that used to be grass for cows and plowed fields is covered with little maples and basswoods. Some not so little.

How did this happen? Imporvements in agriculture allow us to grow a lot more on smaller place. Even the pines, which you disparage. Genetically superior pines grow at least 25% faster than their cousins 20 years ago. They require less fertilizer and pesticides. So you need less land to grow the same amount of wood with a smaller investment of money and time.

David

My knowlege of these things is from observation. I have seen the walls and roads that used to divide two cultivated fields now in the middle of the forest that many people would think was “virgin”. I was present when someone cut down a white pine that was said to be 300 years old. When we counted the rings, ther were 90.

We sometimes think development is destroying all the forests because we see the ones close to the cities. Urban sprawl is a big problem, but a different story.

I don’t say this to denude nature, but to praise it.

If we want to keep ANWAR off limits, that is a choice we can make. I just want it to be for the right reasons.

BTW - speaking of literature Thoreau didn’t like wilderness. What he called wilderness was mixed woodsy farm fields. The Walden thing was a lot like somebody going out to live in a park. You notice he visited lots of people and lots of people visited him. He wasn’t far from town and he never lived off the land. He is the prototype of a lot of urban environmentalists today.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 05:36 PM
Comment #106256

To say Thoreau was a prototype for today’s urban enviromentalists in views may be appropriate but his experience was very, very different.

I live on five acres, one of which is cultivated for our use and the other 4 are wild. To my South is a 20 acre homestead, largely unfenced, upon which about 1.5 acres is cultivated. This is the pattern throughout this hill country N. of San Antonio, interspersed with cattle ranches and small towns, which permits fox, deer, racoon, skunk, rattlers, corral snakes, coyotes, and havalina, and other wildlife ample room to co-exist. This is far more akin to Thoreau’s experience than anything experienced by urban or suburban environmentalists. My neighbors are not within shouting distance, and neither were Thoreau’s.

Thoreau’s definition of wilderness included a space for human beings. A space that in turn left room for the natural ecosystems to exist as well. Apt, I thought, and hardly extreme.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 22, 2005 06:21 PM
Comment #106277

“I don’t know how this could be determined, since there is no real way of knowing exactly what forests looked like at any given time that far back in history. Its likely that there are more trees in some places, like on the great plains, where they have been widely planted around towns and home sites; on the other hand much of what was forested land in the eastern U.S. has been converted to agriculture and urban. Certainly there are more trees now than in 1900, at the end of the great timber baron era of deforestation, and especially since the 1930’s depression years much marginal farmland has been turned back to forest - but much of that was probably forested originally anyway so its hard to say whether there has been any net gain. And what exactly is meant by “more trees?” If you really mean the total number of individual trees then this is probably a true statement since virgin forests had relatively few large trees per acre, and have been replaced by young forests with more but smaller trees per acre. But if you mean total forested land I think it is a very debatable proposition.”

J. Elliott

Posted by: tony at December 22, 2005 07:44 PM
Comment #106306

Elliott

I don’t think there were more trees than there were in 1776, but there are more than there were certainly by the middle of the 19th Century.

I don’t think we need to or can achieve the pre colonization amount of open space. There are some disputes about the total population of N. America before the coming of the Europeans, but it wasn’t high, since hunting gathering with some supplemental farming could not support many people. And the population of the industrializing United States in 1850 (when it had essentially achieved its present size minus Alaska and Hawaii) was only 23 million.

Trees grow back. When the timber guys left that happened unless the farmers moved in. It takes an acre to support a horse and then the low grade seed and lack of nitrogen fertilizer meant that even marginal land was under the plow.

Things changed and the trees and the grass are back in good numbers and health.

David

Re Thoreau - I meant someone who lived in a semi natural areas, but was essentially an urban gay in that his origin and livelihood were not derived from the land. It is different when you know if your crop fails you can just use your other incomes. In that way (I have to admit) they are like me (and maybe you).

I spent May of 2004 studying Thoreau and Emerson. I went to the places they went and walked around their neighborhoods. I came away with a different impression and a different kind of understanding especially re wilderness. The countryside we actually fairly crowded up there, more like a suburb than a wild area.

One thing they did have that many modern people have lost is an idea where their food and fuel came from. They could walk past the cow that might be next week’s steak dinner and the trees that would heat their houses.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 09:54 PM
Comment #106309
ANWR represents something America decided, and the majority of Americans still agree

David, what happens when the political winds shift and the majority then decide to drill ANWR? Will you still be preaching the mantra you are now and support the drilling? Or is your argument that ‘the majority of people want to keep it pristine’ only a tool for your use now and other arguments will protect it when that changes?

Personally, I prefer a non-politically biased view on government ownership over political wind shifts. But that’s just me, I guess. The more the government controls, the more chance that a temporary or illogical political windshift will alter that which it controls beyond recognition.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 22, 2005 10:08 PM
Comment #106427

It’s supposed to be a democracy Rhinehold, albeit a Republic for of Democracy. In any democracy, when the government acts against the will of its own people in a majority, that government is no longer acting as a democracy. Sustained actions against the will of the people can and should be cause for revolution either at the ballot box, or, otherwise should the government make the ballot box ineffective as a revolutionary tool for the people.

In the future, there will be different conditions and circumstances. I would have to appraise the situation in a future light before answering what position I would take then. Buddha knows, I am not one to oppose change when it is warranted. There are circumstances which I have already addressed in which drilling in ANWR would be warranted in my opinion. But those circumstances of last resort and lacking all other alternatives and future existence of the nation depending on it, simply don’t exist today.

The people spoke, ANWR is protected, and a minority influence in D.C. should not overturn that decision without the consent of the majority of the people. It belongs to all the people and therefore, in a democracy, taking ANWR for private use should require the will of the majority of the people. To do otherwise would not be democratic.

BTW, I am on the side of Republicans with regard to the Kelo decision absolutely. The Democrats are the one’s acting against the spirit and intent of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights on the taking of private property by government for transfer to other private parties. Just goes to show how both the major parties demonstrate their willingness to act undemocratically if it suits their ends.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 23, 2005 01:30 AM
Comment #106547

Hi Jack,

I look at the distribution of trees in Wisconsin pre-1860 and today. The land that was cleared is still clear… and cannot be used because of the poor soil and short growing seasons.

Mangaement of our resources does not come until too late. We may disagree where that “too late’ line might be… but I believe this to be true.

If you are aware of some of Wisconsin’s ecological issues then you are aware that there are fishermen here who cannot eat what they catch unless they are willing to take a chance with cancer caused by the PCBs that fill the Fox River.

I agree that maybe the price does need to go up and reflect the true costs. To raise the costs as a tax would drive one faction crazy… to raise the costs as profits to the oil companies would drive another faction nuts.

Now, as an unemployed, single father, college student who has to drive 20 miles each way to school this would be one hell of an expense even though my car would be considered a middle range gas consumer.

I, and many of us, would not be able to just run out and get a car that gets 40+ MPG to compensate for the increased costs of gas.

The easiest way, without government interference, without partisian politics, without being “tree huggers” or environmental “boogeymen” is to simply act responsibly.

We cannot get around the fact that this world is a closed system. What we have now is what will be available in the future.

It seems to me as if we are treating the ANWR as cash found in the cushions of the couch. Instead, we should treasure it and think of it as our life’s legacy that we hope to pass on to our children in the hope that they don’t need it… but if they do, then it will be there.

It reminds me of the big travel home with the bumper sticker saying, “We are spending our children’s inheritance.”

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 23, 2005 08:44 AM
Comment #106565

Jack -

(Actually I posted the quote from Mr. Elliot, a natural resources scientist…) His point is that the ‘trees now vs tress 200 yrs ago’ is subjective at best.

My point is that once land has been cleared, it drops out of the functioning ecosystem. When/If it manages to become engaged as an ecosystem again, it will be functioning differently than before it was destroyed. We can not know what will be taken away with the land… but the track record for these large scale issues with ecosystems have been dismal.

Again, what is the point of risking this for no long term gain and little or no short term gain. The only true profit will be had by the oil industry, and I for one do not want to sacrifice my public lands to simply delay their (oil company’s) extinction.

Posted by: tony at December 23, 2005 09:14 AM
Comment #106673

Tony

How long do you think a forest lasts?

I know the default idea is “almost forever” but that is false. There are some cove forests that are protected by geology where the trees get very old and there are some individual specimens, but whole forests just are not forever.

Look at the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest. The forests we found there were mostly Douglas fir. An individual Douglas fir will live maybe 300 years. Little Douglas firs will not grow under their parents, since they are shade intolerant. What that means is that these “natural” forests were growing in their present locations undisturbed for no more than 300 years. At some point during the last three centuries, they were utterly destroyed. It was probably fire. It might have been natural, but it was more likely the work of the native people. In any case, a fire hot enough to allow douglas fir regeneration destroys everything much more effectively than a clear cut. If you want to simulate this (for natural purposes) just burn all the slash after a clear cut. You arrive at the same result.

Nature is always in the process of destruction and regeneration. There is no balance. Humans can interfere poorly or well. That is the question. Whether or not we will interfere is already decided. We have a choice of where, when and how.

Darren

You live near the place where the Peshtigo fire raged. Much of that land has not been significantly cut since then. The soil was always bad because it sits on granite. That is how the national forests got to be there. Nobody wanted the land so it reverted to public ownership. The logging companies and the subsequent fire did nothing to the land that had not been done many times before by natural and native fires. We would never allow that today, but after 150 years the damage is healed.

You can jump start it by planting trees and we have planted millions of them. I don’t know what parts of Wisconsin you are talking about that are forest free. I used to go regularly to Peshtigo and Iron Mountain Michigan passing through Shawano and places like that. I used to also go up Hwy 10/110. That must be about where you live. You have some bogs and fens that don’t have many trees, and where you have deep soil you often have farms, but my recollection is there are lots of forests.

Re commuting - I know it is cold in Wisconsin much of the year, but think about a bike. In our longer and hotter summers, I ride 17 miles each way, and I am old and feeble.

David

I read in the paper that the “footprint” of the drilling would be very small and that the total affected area would be around 2000 (that’s right, only three zeros) non continuous acres.

There have been many improvements in these technologies. It is not like the old days or even the days twenty years ago.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2005 12:03 PM
Comment #106731

—-
Nature is always in the process of destruction and regeneration. There is no balance. Humans can interfere poorly or well. That is the question. Whether or not we will interfere is already decided. We have a choice of where, when and how.
—-
I’d like to know if you think that drilling/risking environmental dangers is worth the minimal gain from ANWR?

Posted by: tony at December 23, 2005 01:44 PM
Comment #106767

Jack, two things. First, the drilling footprint may be only 2000 acres. But the support and infrastructure that will grow up around the drilling will expand to a much larger size, and why not? Once the drilling is agreed to, there is no precedent to stand in the way of further expansion is there?

2nd. We give way to oil drilling today, and what is to stop scavenging the entire refuge for surface and subsurface water when the price of water goes to $2, $3, or 5$ a gallon in the Western states in 25 years? I will tell you. Absolutely nothing. In fact, if ANWR is drilled, there is nothing to stop the whole sale of ANWR in the future to commercial developers and malls, since it is now pretty clear the N.W. passage through the Arctic will be open in just a few decades from now with little to no ice to speak of to interefere.

Sorry, this truly is a slippery slope. One which needs the current protective wall at the top to prevent the fall.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 23, 2005 02:27 PM
Comment #106865

David

Less slippery without all that ice.

Re water, I don’t think it will come to that BUT if it did the North Slope is not the place you would look for water. It hardly ever rains or snows up there. If it wasn’t so cold, it would be a desert.

A lot of water fall on and runs off my land after it runs through the pine needles and roots, it looks pretty clean. I have three creeks. If I can get $5 a gallon for that stuff, I am richer than Jed Clampet.

Water is not like oil. It is 100% renewable. It is just a matter of location.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2005 04:24 PM
Comment #107147

Jack, water is like oil, in many places in the world. Deep beneath the earth. Or, transport the heavy water long distances. Every carry a 5 gallon pale of water? It’s damned heavy. In many places, it is cheaper to drill deep for it than it is to transport it. That makes it very much like oil in many places. And the West of the U.S. has a real problem, because unlike places in the Sahara, there just isn’t any water to drill for beneath the earth.

In some places in the American West, water is already near $1 a gallon. Think about it. Gasoline was under $2 a gallon just 2 years ago. I travelled to Santa Fe, New Mexico from San Antonio a year or so ago, along highway 290. I was really surprised when I hit W. Texas and E. New Mexico to see billboards and makeshift signs dotting the highways advertising water hauling and water supplies for sale. 15 years ago, taking the same route, there was not a single sign of such kind.

The economics of water in the West is a growing threat due to the mass migration taking place and changing climate and surface water conditions. The Colorado River is already mired in law suits between various local governments and between the US and Mexico whose treaty on this water source has been violated year after year by the U.S. for decades.

The high plateaus of N. New Mexico are reported to be receiving less annual rain and snow fall over a protracted period of time. Water is very much like oil in its economics in many ways relating to supply and demand and transportation from regional distribution sources.

Need a new career? A number of folks in W. Texas have found one buying a water hauling truck and ad space on roadside billboards. People can live without oil, they did it for millenia. People cannot live without water, scientific fact.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 24, 2005 02:19 PM
Comment #107162

David

I was actually thinking of “water ranching”. You know that land is some places comes with water rights. If you are growing cotton in Arizona, you need a lot of water. If you just sell the water you can probably make more money. It is win-win-win. Somebody get the water. You make money. The environment is no longer taxed by producing an unnatural crop. I am glad if water becomes marketable.

BTW - the air in the Phoenix area has become drier as the city used less water than the irrigated fields its sprawl replaces.

If water did cost $5 a gallon it would just mean that people would stop growing crops like cotton. Not a bad thing. The problem with water in the west is not only one of supply. It is also one of price. The price of water is either too low because of government subsidies and archaic water laws or virtually unattainable. A good price structure would rationalize this system.

It doesn’t make that much sense to grow cotton in the desert.

Posted by: Jack at December 24, 2005 03:52 PM
Comment #107311

Jack, I know you are anxious to see breathable air become marketable too! Great way to get rid of the poor people, eh?

That is the progression though, isn’t it? For half a million years, mankind lives on earth and for most of that time, he thinks, but his thoughts are derived from the earth, earth centric so to speak.

Then, mankind becomes homo-centric, and all that was free and available in abundance, becomes scarcer and costly. Then human kind builds whole nations and societies based on profiting and amassing far more than is needed for his own consumption, and some of what was abundantly free, becomes non-exitstent or extinct.

Some folks will never see past greed to the ultimate outcome of such thinking and behavior based on it. The irony is that some of these same folks are reaching out to Mars and other orbs in space as an insurance policy. Absurdly failing to recognize their reach is for places where scarcity of life sustaining elements is an understatement.

Mankind’s cranial development leads to utter and lethal stupidity. The saddest story ever told. Makes me wonder if extra-terrestrial intelligence will even recognize our species as intelligent.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 25, 2005 09:16 AM
Comment #107421

David

If everyone only used the water he could carry from the stream (as in your Arcadian example) we would have no water shortages. But we use a lot more. People don’t limit their use of what is “free”. If you have to go fetch water, it is really not free (you trade labor). Our modern society has made it almost free to the individual. That is actually the problem. If we apply market forces, we are essentially going back to the Arcadian forces you favor. It will certainly not cost more in terms of labor than the walk to the stream and back. You mentioned the weight of five gallons of water. How much is it worth not to have to carry that a half mile?

Posted by: Jack at December 25, 2005 10:53 PM
Comment #107467

Jack said: “But we use a lot more. People don’t limit their use of what is “free”.”

They don’t today. They used to. Our economic paradigms and cultures now use sophisticated advertising and communications strategies to advocate gluttony. It is not that people can’t, it is that the social systems we created within our societies won’t cultivate a respect for the concept my grandparents taught me, waste not, want not!

This is the gaping flaw of capitalism. I extend this argument significantly in a comment in response to your article in the right column entitled, Science Improving Nature.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 26, 2005 08:11 AM
Comment #107733

David

The never used to, or at least no more than today. People had less, so they were more conscious of keeping it. We were talking about water. Does anyone conserve water when there is no shortage? Why would they? Do you conserve air? Anybody conserve sea water at the ocean shore or sand in a desert? It is foolish to conserve anything that is not short. We know how much of a shortage something is locally because we can’t find it. The only way we know about shortage of things outside our experience is price.

Price gets a bad reputation because it is associated with greed. But price is just a signal of relative scarcity. The reason socialism can’t work even if people are good and honest is that lack of a price mechanism.

Posted by: Jack at December 26, 2005 11:27 PM
Comment #107820

Yes, Jack. I do. I have a well serving my 5 acres, and we do indeed conserve water. Our well has never gone dry, but, that is no excuse for not conserving it with xeriscaping on our property and capturing and retaining for use surface water from our wet weather creek.

And yes, we do indeed conserve our air. We have a wood burning stove for heating our home, which is efficient, and we are very careful not to burn softwoods or plywoods, or color printed newspaper for fire starter. All measures to prevent polluting the air any more than necessary. And our air out here in the Hill Country is extremely clean compared the thermal inversion air sitting over San Antonio 30 miles to our south.

It is not shortage that causes us to conserve. It is education. NO! It is not foolish to conserve that which is not in short supply. What is VERY foolish, is to consume until there are shortages. Now that is foolish.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2005 02:47 AM
Comment #108991

Hi Jack,
Sorry for the gap there… on other things and daughter visiting.

As far as riding a bike… With the Wisconsin winters and the lack of roads (a highway yes, but no roads) from between where I live and where I do, a bike would not be very helpful all the time.

Besides, I am talking about conservation where we can reasonably maintain a comfortable and enjoyable life. Do I need a Hummer to commute? No… a smaller, more fuel efficient car can do it in style, comfort, less expensive and multiplied across millions of people a great savings.

This is where serious people with serious concerns get their point drown out. We are not talking about significantly changing anything. How many people in SUVs and Hummers and 4X4 Trucks really take them off road or drive them in the way they are designed and capable of being driven? Not many. I do not want to legislate their choice, nor tax their choice.

I would preffer if a person understood their impact on this earth, in all its ways and act accordingly.

Some of the south western states eye our great lakes with thirst… they believe that it isn’t really being managed if we are not draining it. But, there are places even in WI that are in serious problems with their water tables being depleted fast then replenished.

My belief is that no state deserves this water as long as they attempt to live in a desert and live a lifestyle unnatural to the environment.

Las Vegas, Palm Springs two name two places. Each house, lovely fresh green grass, multiple golf courses and growing.

As far as the footprint of the drilling platforms, that is not the concern. It is the disruption that the supporting structures will cause to the caribou. Roads and such disturbing their existance. Why call it a wild life preserve if we are not concerned with the wild life we are wanting to preserve?

There need not be dramatic changes that will keep us out of the ANWR. We can debate the benefits of managing the wilderness for man’s use… but the forests that are created by man for lumber are not wilderness. They are just places for wild life to hang out until such time as man is ready for the trees.

The only pre 1860 versus today illustration of the woodlands I could find to support my saying is from my Wisconsin Geograhy class I took two semesters ago. Because this was a college class the professor got it from an acdemic source not a website I can link to.

The thing is, Wisconsin DID have a woodlands and was complete from La Crosse, through Portage and up to Green Bay. What we have today does not resemeble it at all. There might be lots of trees, but lots is a relative term.

Thanks All.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 29, 2005 04:16 PM