In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer explains how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by blocking a vote to lift the ban on drilling in Alaska’s ANWR and off the U.S. coast, is actually harming the environment, not just placing the U.S. at the mercy of OPEC. Blocking drilling in the U.S., where drilling seldom results in oil spills, results in more drilling in foreign countries like Nigeria where inept drilling often results in oil spills and environmental contamination. It also results in our government pushing ethanol subsidies, which are themselves environmentally destructive, causing soil erosion and rain forest destruction.
As Krauthammer notes, Pelosi’s opposition to drilling in the U.S. results in more drilling in “places such as Nigeria, where chronic corruption, environmental neglect and the resulting unrest and instability lead to pipeline explosions, oil spills and illegal siphoning by the poverty-stricken population — which leads to more spills and explosions. Just this week, two Royal Dutch Shell pipelines had to be shut down because bombings by local militants were causing leaks into the ground. Compare the Niger Delta to the Gulf of Mexico, where deep-sea U.S. oil rigs withstood Hurricanes Katrina and Rita without a single undersea well suffering a significant spill.”
Because of the shortage of domestic oil supplies, lawmakers like Pelosi have turned to ethanol and biofuels as a “panacea.” But as Krauthammer notes, ”it is blindingly obvious . . . that biofuels are a devastating force for environmental degradation. It has led to the rape of ‘lungs of the world’ rain forests in Indonesia and Brazil as huge tracts have been destroyed to make room for palm oil and sugar plantations. Here in the United States, one out of every three ears of corn is stuffed into a gas tank (by way of ethanol), causing not just food shortages abroad and high prices at home but intensive increases in farming, with all of the attendant environmental problems (soil erosion, insecticide pollution, water consumption, etc.). This to prevent drilling on an area in the Arctic one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport that leaves undisturbed a refuge one-third the size of Britain.”
As I have noted earlier, ethanol subsidies also cause world hunger and starvation, high food prices, food rioting, and increased support for Islamic extremism in places like Afghanistan and Jordan.
The harmful effects of Congress closing coastal areas and the Arctic to drilling were earlier described by Robert Samuelson in The Post. “What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity,” he noted.
Oil drilling doesn’t harm the environment. An Audubon Society bird sanctuary has 37 oil wells on site, and has produced natural gas for 50 years without harming the environment.