December 20, 2005

The ANWR Lightswitch: On-Off-On....

Hatched by Dafydd

The history of the attempt to allow drilling in a tiny sliver of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge boggles the mind: over and over, one side of Capitol Hill passes the legislation, only to see the other side shoot it down. Most recently, the Senate enacted a budget resolution that included drilling in ANWR (the budget is not subject to filibuster)... but the idiots in the House cut it out of their budget res, and in was not restored in conference.

Now, as a direct result of heavy-handed pressure from Alaska Senator-for-Life Ted Stevens, the representatives and senators on the Joint Conference Committee have once again restored drilling in ANWR... as I suspected they would. It took some arm-twisting and horse-trading, but I think it's far more important than anything they had to give up (mostly more government help for heating-oil costs).

But this time, Stevens shoehorned it into the Defense Appropriations Bill in both House and Senate, a must-pass piece of legislation that funds the troops:

The Alaska Republican is trying to secure the mother of all pet projects for his state: oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Stevens has attached the provision to a popular defense-spending bill and has put holiday plans of his Senate colleagues on hold as he dares Democratic and moderate Republican opponents to vote against it.

Again, the Senate Democrats threaten to filibuster... but they're already filibustering reauthorization of the Patriot Act; they're currently railing against the president's executive order to spy on al-Qaeda members and affilliates; and they just took to the public airwaves to argue that the Iraq War is hopeless, and we should withdraw -- just days before the wildly successful elections there.

Coming off that McGovernite anti-war roll, the question is whether they want to add filibustering funding for the soldiers during wartime to that list of peculiarities. Pretty soon, someone might start to get the idea that the Democrats are the "defeatists" that Bush was talking about in his nationally televised speech Sunday.

Many Democrats (and a few renegade Republicans) are furious over Stevens' maneuver; but there it is. And since the House has already adjourned, if the Senate fails to pass the bill, nothing will happen until next year... which means the Pentagon may run out of money to fight this war. I heard a clip of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on Brit Hume yesterday, and Reid was saying that Bush is playing a game of chicken, and that if the appropriations bill goes down, it will be all Bush's fault.

Right. If the Senate fails to pass a bill because the Democrats led a filibuster against it, it's George W. Bush's fault. "Look what you made me do!"

The underlying argument is about as obvious as Laura Prepon's superstructure:

  1. We're in dire need of oil
  2. The primary sources are countries that either have anti-American populations (such as Saudi Arabia) or else violently anti-American governments (Venezuela)
  3. We know there is a massive oil reserve in one of our own states, Alaska
  4. That state is desperate to drill the oil and sell it
  5. Previous prophecies of environmental doom (e.g., with the Alaskan oil pipeline) have proven to be hysterical overreactions

Put 'em all together and they spell A-N-W-R, along with Santa Barbara and the Gulf of Mexico. But everybody seems to have his own agenda -- like Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), normally a standup Republican, who opposes drilling for oil, from what I can tell, because he represents a farm and dairy state: a provision was inserted continuing the subsidy of dairy farmers specifically to get Coleman on board.

I really don't know whether the filibuster will succeed or not; both sides are grimly determined. But Stevens has vowed to keep the Senate in session until the filibuster ends and the vote occurs.

If it comes to a vote, it will pass; the only danger now is if 41 senators are actually willing to defund the troops in order to make sure America remains dependent upon alien and enemy countries. (I almost wonder whether that is indeed the point: to make America so dependent that other nations will be able to thwart any future American actions in the war against jihadi terrorists.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 20, 2005, at the time of 4:38 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Can't get your trackbacks to work. I linked from Maybe we will open ANWR to drilling after all! It's about time.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2005 2:03 AM

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