Thursday, May 29, 2008

Random thoughts on oil and Alaska. . .

Lately I've been hearing a lot about ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Alaska) and whether or not we (the U.S.) should be drilling for oil (or rather, should have been drilling for the past several years) on our own soil and in our own waters. (More than we already do, that is.)

I won't get into all the particulars of the issue. You probably already know them, and if not, many others (more informed on the subject than I am) have written plenty about it, already. Basically, it comes down to this: The chief argument against drilling in ANWR is that some feel it would be detrimental to the environment and the "sanctity" of the refuge.

(Never mind that drilling would affect only 2,000 acres of the 19.6 million-acre refuge. Ok, I said I wasn't going to get into the details. . .)

Every time I hear something about this, my blood begins to boil. (And not only for the most obvious reasons. More on that in a minute.) The same thing happens when I hear that Florida refuses to drill offshore because it would (supposedly) affect their tourist-appeal or somehow harm their beaches.

(Just ignore the fact that other Gulf states have offshore drilling and the tourists still pour right on in! Pretend that a carefully monitored, government-regulated oil rig is more likely to contaminate and uglify your sands than the litterbug tourists themselves! Besides, once you build up a strip of beachfront-- clog the views with condos-- it's already half ruined. And trust me, the condos and other establishments-- and the accompanying noise, traffic, and clutter-- are much more obvious and ugly than a tiny speck on the horizon could ever be.)

Why am I so annoyed (apart from the obvious)?
I just wonder why it is that people seem to take it for granted that certain parts of the world are so much more precious than the rest of it. People have built up some fairytale image of pristine Alaska or tropical paradise Florida. I agree that national parks and reserves are important-- and I'm all for preserving natural beauty and habitats (as much as may be), wherever they are-- but I get the distinct impression that if someone found oil in an obscure national reserve in, say, Georgia or Kansas, there wouldn't be quite so much outcry against going after it.

It's not the biggest, most important part of the issue, by far, but it irks me. Who decided that the whole of Alaska is so special that it's never to be touched? By whose estimation are Florida's beaches more precious than Alabama's or Louisiana's?

Well, that's my grumble for the day. ;o)

ETA: Ok, not "the whole of Alaska". Sorry about that. I got carried away. (g)