Leader or handmaiden?

Posted: Friday, March 08, 2002

I recently received a letter from Sen. Murkowski detailing his reasons for supporting the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.

While his reasons are logical, they fail to address the real problems we face. The main reason we face an energy shortage in this country is our profligate and unrestrained use of the resources available to us - as if we will never face the real possibility of running out of energy.

Oil is a very finite resource, and once it is gone it will be gone. There is no short-term fix for this. Both the senator and I know this is a fact. And, to hope and fantasize that something will "come along" to supply our energy requirements is not only unrealistic, but also irresponsible.

Alaska's current financial dilemma is largely a result of dependence on oil revenues with no other alternatives, but is a separate problem and must be addressed separately, differently and fairly. The figures that disturb me are these: Americans are less than 5 percent of the world's population, yet we consume 25 percent of the world's energy resources and comparable amounts of other resources, too. This is unconscionable and irresponsible. Our children and all future generations will never forgive the present generations for our irresponsibility, greed and selfishness.

The senator is in a position to be a real leader and seize the opportunity to encourage conservation and more efficient use of our resources - and not only of oil, mind you - and to insist on federal help for alternatives to our unsustainable use of resources. He, as a leader, should take the lead in this and not give appearance of being a handmaiden to the big resource extraction consortiums, regardless of how much they may contribute to his political campaigns. I urge him to rise to the challenge.

Americans are a bright people and can recognize truth and reality - and will know who was at the throttle when the resource train runs out of steam.

Erik Lie-Nielsen


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