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Landrieu's ANWR vote good for Louisiana and the country

While a pessimist would remind us that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Sen. Mary Landrieu stepped up to do the right thing with her vote to retain the authorization to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska as part of the energy budget bill. Not only did she help put into place a sensible policy for America, she made maximal use of the leverage her vote provided to win concessions for increased scrutiny of coastal erosion in Louisiana, even as her colleagues knew she was leaning this way anyway (without her vote on the side to keep the amendment doing this in, the ensuing 50-50 tie would have needed Vice President Dick Cheney’s vote to win).

The environmentalist left’s reaction to this issue always has served as a telling barometer to their true motivations and overall general wackiness. As on so many other issues these people act like the sky is falling almost any time any aspect about the environment is desired to be altered in any way, no matter how far the benefits exceed the costs. They and their Democrat allies have treated the prospect of drilling there as nothing short of a national environmental disaster that will despoil beautiful scenery, disrupt pristine nature, strike a blow against people living there, and generally will ruin the entire refuge while not making a dent in energy production in the U.S.

But the facts say otherwise:

  • The total area to be explored is about 0.01 percent of the entire refuge
  • That small parcel that would be, Section 1002 (about the size of a larger airport), is frozen over 290 days a year, in darkness two straight months (with wind chills hitting 120 degrees below zero), has little light for several months more, and when it’s thawed is almost treeless mud flats
  • The most common living being in the area, during the brief summer, is swarms of mosquitoes
  • Of the 1,500 area natives near there, 80 percent support drilling.
  • At an estimated 2 million barrels a day removed from a field that could last decades (these being typical estimates of those studying its capacity), with modern techniques and exacting safety standards (more oil leaks into a typical Wal-Mart parking lot per day than has been spilled in all of Alaska in the last 25 years), this would reduce our current import needs by 20 percent (although it will be seven years before the first crude hits the market)

    To understand the hysteria opposing drilling, we must understand that for many environmentalists the issue serves as a cover for deeper resentments against free enterprise. To them, the use of any technology on the environment exemplifies the march of capitalism and its penchant for rewarding people in proportion to their contributions to society, and is the single greatest threat to their desire to control that economy (through government regulation) in order for them to extract power and privilege.

    Too often in the past Landrieu sided with people such as these. But last week, she made the right call in opposing them and most of the Democratic Party. It’s a refreshing independence that hopefully she’ll display more often.
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