One of our Senators, John Cornyn, is hosting an Energy Independence forum. The goal is to get feedback from bloggers about their thoughts on the U.S.'s reliance on foreign energy and people's feelings on some of the solutions that have been offered. Here is my "two cents worth"~~
The United States has been a world leader in many areas - technology, science, farming, production, aid in times of trouble or disaster, but there is one area we should not be proud of leading. That is the amount of fuel consumed that is purchased from governments or countries that profess to be allies but in truth are the opposite. Reliance on another for fuel makes us a slave to that entity. Consumers find they are very vulnerable to price changes that are basically at the fancy of the controlling entity.
As a nation, the U.S. should be researching and finding ways to lower dependence on foreign oil and become more self-sufficient. There are areas with oil deposits that are available, but are "off limits" because of a "Preservationist" attitude in the environmental world. A different school of thought should be one of Conservation. Conservation says that the land use should be maintained for all. Conservationism is the thought or teaching that sustainable use of the resources available is done while maintaining the natural beauty, habitat for wildlife and plants, and integrity of the area. Think controlled harvesting of trees vs. clear cutting. Controlled harvesting is done by cutting a certain number and specific age of trees to maintain the natural forest. This allows the impact to be minimized on the land, animals, climate, etc. of the area, while offering an economic incentive to make the best use of the resources.
One of these areas is the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge - ANWR for short. There are those who would say that this area is the last wilderness and should be kept absolutely pristine for future generations. Construction and maintainence of the Alaska pipeline is an example used to support their position. Unfortunately, it does not support that position at all. An article published by the University of Michigan entitled "The Environmental Effects of the Alaska Pipeline" discuss the impace the pipeline has had overall on the state of Alaska and the area surrounding it. The pipeline has had a huge economic impact on those living in the state, but much less of of an impact on the flora and fauna of the area. The area around the pipeline has not had a detrimental effect on the caribou migration or population as was widely touted at the time. Nor has the pipline had a huge negative effect on the other wildlife in the area. 1
Exploration and drilling in ANWR could promote similar benefits but there are some additional factors to consider. In a news article published at ANWR.org, an overview is given of a bill introduced by Minority Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Don Young. "Minority Natural Resources Committee Chairman Don Young introduced HR 6107, The American Energy Independence and Price Reduction Act. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). The bill calls for the opening of the 10-02 Area of ANWR to responsible oil and gas development and uses the funds generated from oil production taxes to set up an Alternative Energy Trust Fund to promote the development and production of alternative energies."2 The last statement bears repeating - The funds received from taxes on the oil production would be used to set up a Trust to promote the development of alternative energy sources to lessen dependence on oil as a fuel source. This program would receive funds from oil development to find ways to lessen the need for oil development and would not cost the American taxpayer one dime!
But economic use is not the only purpose or use of the area. Our world is driven by economy but it is not the only force. People want and need places to go that feed their inner souls as well as help their economic outlook. ANWR is one of those places but to maintain it for the beauty and the grandeur, a habitat for wildlife, and native plant life is not exclusive of an economic benefit. Why can't both sides benefit? It does not have to be a "win" for the oil development to the detriment of the natural beauty. Nor does it have to be a "lose" for oil development to keep and maintain the majestic vista and wildlife habitat. It can be "win-win" for both sides, if minds are open to explore the possibilities!