NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton-Gore's Anti-Energy Policies

September 25, 2000

George W. Bush should attack the Clinton-Gore Administration's anti-energy policies, says Bruce Bartlett. For instance, the administration opposes oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it deems the threat to land and wildlife is too great.

Environmentalists made the same argument more than 20 years ago about the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and drilling near Prudhoe Bay.

  • At Prudhoe Bay, a tunnel was built under the causeway that stretched from land to the drilling platform 200 yards away, because environmentalists said fish were too stupid to swim around it.
  • They also said the tunnel had to be lighted; but others said the fish would be frightened by the light.
  • So the oil companies built two tunnels, one lighted and one dark, and hired a biologist to study the fish to ensure they were not inconvenienced.

The fish easily swam around. And those that used the tunnel were indifferent as to light or dark. Nevertheless, a biologist permanently monitors the situation.

  • Environmentalists also said caribou are too stupid or fearful to walk under the pipeline, which is elevated to keep the permafrost from melting.
  • So costly caribou bridges were built.
  • Today, the caribou walk under the pipeline unconcerned; indeed, the pipeline shelter them from the harsh summer sun.

Similarly spurious arguments prevent exploration of Alaska's coastal plain, which may contain 4 billion barrels of oil.

But even if more oil were available, there wouldn't be any way to make gasoline or heating oil out of it because there has not been a single new refinery built during the Clinton-Gore years. It is just about impossible to expand existing capacity.

And a pipeline planned to bring cheap, abundant Canadian natural gas to the Northeast U.S. has never been built, leaving that region dependent on electricity and home heating oil.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, September 25, 2000.

For info on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


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