Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Drilling in ANWR, the Eco-Left's Lies Not Dead Yet

Last week a group of so-called Moderate Republican Congressmen, mostly from the Northeast, joined with Democrats to remove from the House Budget Bill a provision permitting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). Fortunately, Republicans in the Senate appear to be more strong willed. Or maybe just smarter. They've approved the provision. Hopefully, in conference, the provision will be kept in for hte final budget bill.

The Republicans flipping sides on this issue illustrate how the misinformation and lies from the ultra-environmental Left continue to prevent the US from working to escape the grip Arab oil producers have on this nation. We've heard how the Native Alaskans don't want their land raped by the evil oil companies. We've heard how drilling in ANWR will decimate the caribou population. We've seen all the pretty pictures caribou munching on the lush green land, alongside clear, clean streams, with snow-capped mountains in hte background. It's all so serene.

Unfortunately, it's all hogwash. Every bit of it. The environmentalists and tree-huggers are lying to us. The general public doesn't seem well enough informed to see through it. Here's a few facts for you to chew on...

First, about the people... The Inupiat Eskimos of Kaktoviak, the Native Alaskans in the area around ANWR for thousands of years, have expressed their support for drilling, so long as "we are given the authority and the resources to ensure that it is done properly and safely." The residents of Kaktovik are the only people living on the Coastal Plain of ANWR. Their opinions should be paramount to the argument. The details of their position are stated in much greater detail in what they call the Kaktovik Papers, a set of documents entitled In This Place: A Guide to Those Who Would Work in the Country of the Kaktovikmiut (PDF file).

One public face for the Inupiat people is Tara Sweeney, who has served as a government affairs officer for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) and as a special assistant for rural issues in the administration of Governor Frank H. Murkowski. In her capacity with the ASRC, she represented the wishes of her fellow Inupiat. These are her words, their words...

"Our struggle, happening as we speak, going on nationwide, is between the informed and the uninformed, and it is happening today in the halls of Congress.

"Within those halls there is a debate on the most controversial element of the President’s national energy plan. This element is the responsible development of oil and gas on a tiny parcel of land within my region; it is the Coastal Plain of ANWR. Again, my people hold title to 92,000 acres of land within the Coastal Plain. We cannot develop our privately owned land unless Congress authorizes development within the Coastal Plain.

"The uninformed will tell you that the Coastal Plain is untouched by man; that it is America’s Serengeti; the last great wilderness on earth; or that it cannot be developed responsibly. I am here to tell you the truth. In short, the Coastal Plain of ANWR is not untouched by man, nor is it the last great wilderness on earth. Finally, we believe that ANWR can be developed responsibly.

"The Inupiat people of Kaktovik own the surface rights to the 92,000 acres while ASRC owns the subsurface rights to that land.

"Kaktovik residents support responsible ANWR development, as do 75% of all Alaskans and the Alaska Federation of Natives, an organization that represents all Alaska Natives.

"The decision of my people to support development was not made in haste, nor were we pressured by the industry. Our decision is rooted in our knowledge of the environment, stewardship of the animals and history with the Prudhoe Bay development.

"The Prudhoe Bay oil fields lie within our regional boundaries. When oil was discovered in our region in the late 1960’s, we were fearful of development. It represented the abolishment of our traditional way of life; we feared development would drive out the caribou that we depended on for sustenance. Concerns of the care for the environment were raised, and the industry was viewed as an incompetent steward of our homeland.

"Those issues were and still are very important to my people. The land and sea bear the fruits of our garden. We depend on both to provide us with food, to carry on our ancient traditions, to live, to exist. Safeway, Wegmans or Kroger stores are not present in our region. Therefore, we feared development threatened our very existence. To exist without the bounties of both land and sea was to not be Inupiaq at all. So, we opposed development.

"Over thirty years later we have changed our opinion. Development has not adversely impacted our ancient traditions or our food supply. The caribou population that we feared would be abolished as a result of development has thrived since the Prudhoe Bay discovery. What was once a meager population of 3,000 caribou in the late 1960’s, is now flourishing to numbers over 27,000. The population increase is a result of our careful stewardship over the land. Not because of lack of predators, as the environmental industry would have you believe. Our regulatory powers over the oil industry safeguard our wildlife and protect the environment.

"The uninformed proclaim that at least 400 oil spills occur on the North Slope each year. What qualifies as an oil spill? Thanks to the environmental standards enforced by the North Slope Borough, the industry is required to report and clean up an oil spill when one tablespoon of oil spills on the ground. If the industry fails to report a spill, they run the risk of having heavy fines levied against them.

"My people were the aboriginal environmentalists of our region, long before it was trendy to become a member of the Sierra Club. We would not support responsible development if it compromised our ancient traditional practices and values that make up who we are as a people."
Strong words. Her people know the area, and it's animals, better than anyone. Their voice should be first and last in this argument. But the enviro-weenies, who have never been to Alaska, have never seen the land set aside for drilling, and who certainly have never spoken to an Inupiat, think they know better.

As for the land itself, it's not the beautiful, green meadowy wonderland the eco-nuts would have you believe. Don't believe me? Check out the picture gallery on the City of Kaktovic web site. These people live in ANWR. They take pictures of it. You should see them.

So what are the environmentalists' real motivations here? Their agenda is spelled out in the "Earth Charter", a document approved by many "green" groups, including the Sierra Club. As FrontPageMag puts it...
...[Earth Charter] reads: "the dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation." In other words, they want to destroy the free enterprise system and replace it with a system that "Promote(s) the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations" - in other words, socialism.

In order to destroy free enterprise, the eco-socialists are using false arguments about Alaskan natives, false images of life in ANWR and false claims about the effect of oil drilling on wildlife. Their real goal and its affect on the day-to-day life of millions of humans is contained in the preamble to the Earth Charter which reads: "when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more."
Their agenda has nothing to do with ANWR, caribou, the Inupiat or Alaska. They're all just a means to an end for these nuts.