Short-term needs call for drilling Alaska oil


Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Hank Lentfer's suggestion (Feb. 2) to keep ANWR's oil in the ground as a strategy to combat global warming is a little like outlawing supermarkets in an effort to help overeaters - in theory it could help achieve the desired result, but at what cost?

The fact is, the global economy is going to need oil and other fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. The alternatives to oil remain expensive, intermittent, or carry environmental risks of their own.

Having said that, there are a variety of promising alternative energy technologies I enthusiastically support. I have long supported production tax credits for wind energy. I am including incentives for biomass energy and energy efficiency in my comprehensive energy bill, and I have advanced a new program of long-term research and development to avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. But those are long-term efforts, and we face significant short-term realities.

Every barrel of oil we do not produce from Alaska's Arctic will come from the Colombian rain forest, the Caspian Sea, or some other area of the world without the kind of strict environmental standards we demand here in the United States. Virtually every barrel of oil we import into the United States will come to us in foreign tankers that may not be as well equipped and crewed as U.S. tankers, increasing the prospects of oil spills on our shores.

We expect the day will come when we will not need significant amounts of fossil fuels, but in the interim, developing oil domestically, under our strict environmental standards, is the best we can do for our economy and our environment.

Sen. Frank H. Murkowski

Washington, D.C.

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