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Alaska oil drilling back on agenda

Old 11-10-04, 04:19 PM
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Alaska oil drilling back on agenda

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/....ap/index.html

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican gains in the Senate could give President Bush his best chance yet to achieve his No. 1 energy priority -- opening an oil-rich but environmentally sensitive Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling.

If he is successful, it would be a stinging defeat for environmentalists and an energy triumph that eluded Bush his first four years in the White House. A broader agenda that includes reviving nuclear power, preventing blackouts and expanding oil and gas drilling in the Rockies will be more difficult to enact.

Republicans in the House and Senate said this week they plan to push for Alaska refuge drilling legislation early next year, and they predict success, given the 55-44-1 GOP Senate majority in the next Congress. Democrats and some environmental activists say continued protection of the refuge has never been as much in doubt.

"It's probably the best chance we've had," Rep. Richard Pombo, R-California, chairman of the House Resources Committee and a vocal drilling advocate, said in an interview.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he will press to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as part of the government's budget deliberations early in 2005. That would enable drilling proponents to skirt an otherwise certain Democratic-led filibuster that would be difficult to overcome.

"With oil trading at nearly $50 a barrel, the case for ANWR is more compelling than ever," said Domenici. "We have the technology to develop oil without harming the environment and wildlife."

Bush is also expected in his second term to renew his call for action by Congress on a broader, largely pro-production, energy agenda -- from easing rules for oil and gas drilling on federal land in the Rocky Mountains to expanding clean-coal technology and improving the reliability of the electricity grid.

New tax incentives to spur construction of next-generation nuclear power plants also will be back on the table after Democrats and some moderate Republicans scuttled it last year. Greater use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline also has wide support at the White House and in Congress.

Drilling in the Alaska refuge has been all but dismissed as unachievable since drilling opponents two years ago beat back a pro-development measure by a 52-48 vote. Bush did not make an issue of the refuge during the presidential campaign.

But with four new GOP senators expected to support ANWR drilling and the loss of a Republican moderate who opposed it, drilling advocates believe they now have at least 52 votes in the Senate, enough to get the measure through Congress as part of the budget process. By Senate rules, opponents of drilling cannot filibuster a budget measure. ANWR qualifies as a budget measure because it will generate income for the government from oil companies.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that drilling in the Arctic refuge remains a Bush priority, particularly now that oil prices are high.

"I've seen the oil prices go up and down over time, and people seem to assume that when prices get high, they always stay high," she said. "But you need to get the investments done at that point so you've got the projects that are continuing on when the prices are low."

Environmentalists already are gearing up to wage an intense lobbying campaign to keep oil rigs out of the refuge's coastal plain, a breeding ground for caribou, home to polar bears and musk oxen and site of an annual influx of millions of migratory birds.

"This is as serious a threat to the refuge as any that has come before," said Jim Waltman of the National Wildlife Federation. "But the facts haven't changed. This is still a magnificent area and it can still be damaged by oil drilling."

But geologists believe 11 billion barrels of oil lie beneath the refuge's tundra and ice, and drilling supporters contend they can be tapped without damage to the environment or wildlife.

Regardless the outcome in the Alaska refuge dispute, the path to getting a comprehensive energy bill is likely to be full of potholes. Twice in the last four years lawmakers have agreed on 85 percent or more of an energy package only to see final action derailed over narrow, although intensely contentious, issues.

Some lawmakers, including Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, senior Democrat on the energy committee that will write the legislation, argue that lawmakers should focus instead on passing separate bills on the most urgent and widely supported measures.

Some of that already has occurred, such as the recently approved loan guarantees for a proposed $20 billion natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states.

Despite the GOP's new strength, Senate Democrats can still put the brakes on energy measures they strongly oppose through filibusters such as the one that blocked an energy bill in 2003. The issue then in dispute was liability protection for makers of the MTBE gasoline additives, which have been found to contaminate water systems.

However, given the stronger GOP majority, sustaining such filibusters may be more difficult.
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Old 11-10-04, 04:37 PM
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I'd love a sensible energy strategy. Bush could finally win me over domestically if he pulled it off.
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Old 11-10-04, 04:52 PM
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i liked kerry's plan for energy independence. beg other countries to sell us oil at lower prices, buy more of it and wait a few decades until technology improves.
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Old 11-10-04, 04:54 PM
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All that wasted, untapped Alaskan wildlife!! It's just sitting there!
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Old 11-10-04, 04:56 PM
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But but but I thought the Saudis controlled Bush?
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Old 11-10-04, 04:57 PM
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It's not as if oil drilling is achieved in some sort of primitive fashion without regards to the surroundings. If the US wants to reduce it's dependency on foreign oil, drilling in ANWR is a necessary place to start.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:04 PM
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Now if we just converted all that oil to electricity on the spot and used it to generate hydrogen to load up disposable fuel cells that are brought back to the lower 48 states we could kill two or more birds with one stone. We pollute the polar region so it stays cold due to lack of sunshine and we get clean air down here by not having to refine and burn the oil.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:06 PM
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Yep . . . here's one of the things that Bush is for that I am not . . .
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Old 11-10-04, 05:13 PM
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nuke the polar bears.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:15 PM
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Originally posted by X
Now if we just converted all that oil to electricity on the spot and used it to generate hydrogen to load up disposable fuel cells that are brought back to the lower 48 states...
whoa there, cowboy - "48 states"? Let's have the states vote on whatever they want it or not, for example, I don't think California would vote to accept the oil, this will help the other cooperative states (By cooperative, I mean the Mountain and Southern states).
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Old 11-10-04, 05:17 PM
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Originally posted by Ranger
whoa there, cowboy - "48 states"? Let's have the states vote on whatever they want it or not, for example, I don't think California would vote to accept the oil, this will help the other cooperative states (By cooperative, I mean the Mountain and Southern states).
That's fine with me. If they don't want the drilling they shouldn't be forced to take what comes of it.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:21 PM
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Originally posted by al_bundy
i liked kerry's plan for energy independence. beg other countries to sell us oil at lower prices, buy more of it and wait a few decades until technology improves.
I agree with your first sentence. But the second one seems unrelated to it.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:32 PM
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I thought Kerry's plan was a secret.

Remember when the Alaska Pipeline was proposed, there was a lot of whining about the caribou. Their numbers actually increased after the pipeline.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:34 PM
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Originally posted by X
Now if we just converted all that oil to electricity on the spot and used it to generate hydrogen to load up disposable fuel cells that are brought back to the lower 48 states we could <B>kill two or more birds with one stone.</B>
The environmentalists would never go for stones that kill more than one bird.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:35 PM
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I just dont trust him to do it in a good way. I do think we should start a plan to get to this oil though.

Remember this is the guy that said he would do everything in his power to protect the Giant Sequoias only a few months before he signed a bill that not only allowed logging in the Sequoia National forest and monument but also allowed the cutting down of Sequoias that blocked access to the trees around them



Gas prices will force the market will handle a big part of this problem as you have seen with the Japanese car companies fuel efficiency and hybrids. The US was caught sleeping and now the high gas prices will force US market share to slip to the Japanese brands with efficiencies that US companies cant compete with. Just look at this years rebates for an example of this problem.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:45 PM
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Reality: Any comprehensive energy plan must include exploration & drilling for oil & natural gas.

That must start with ANWR.

I would favor drilling in the Eastern Gulf, off the Atlantic & Pacific coasts, The Great Lakes, and others. That's most likely not in the cards - at least not until this country is devastated by an energy crisis that will make the one in the - '70s seem like a picnic.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:49 PM
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Originally posted by classicman2
Reality: Any comprehensive energy plan must include exploration & drilling for oil & natural gas.

That must start with ANWR.

I would favor drilling in the Eastern Gulf, off the Atlantic & Pacific coasts, The Great Lakes, and others. That's most likely not in the cards - at least not until this country is devastated by an energy crisis that will make the one in the - '70s seem like a picnic.
I agree.

But there is the issue of stewardship. I gave you just one example why we should question if this administration could be trusted do a good job.
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Old 11-10-04, 05:52 PM
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Originally posted by bfrank
I just dont trust him to do it in a good way. I do think we should start a plan to get to this oil though.

Remember this is the guy that said he would do everything in his power to protect the Giant Sequoias only a few months before he signed a bill that not only allowed logging in the Sequoia National forest and monument but also allowed the cutting down of Sequoias that blocked access to the trees around them



Gas prices will force the market will handle a big part of this problem as you have seen with the Japanese car companies fuel efficiency and hybrids. The US was caught sleeping and now the high gas prices will force US market share to slip to the Japanese brands with efficiencies that US companies cant compete with. Just look at this years rebates for an example of this problem.
the problem with US auto makers is that historically they made crappy cars and it was SUV's and minivans that actually put money in the bank. Their unions suck up $1400 per car on health benefits compared to $400 for Honda and Toyota. Makes it hard to earn a profit on small cheapo cars and so they concentrated on SUV's.

Other than hybrids Toyota and Honda make a profit selling all their cars and so they can afford years of losses selling hybrids until the technology matures, the market catches up and costs drop.
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Old 11-10-04, 06:06 PM
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Not just hybrids. There efficiency numbers are way better then ours. My point is that when someone goes to buy a car in the coming years one of the main concerns will be higher gas prices. This will cause the automakers to take notice.

In Japan and EU this happens long ago and they are way ahead of the US in making the change in consumption. This will happen here also.

For new tech we also see that international companies making big push in that direction because of a government mandate to fund this research. Again we are way behind.

More production is a short term solution that will fail without adding the other imports parts of an energy plan.

What we really need to do is look at is the Yosemite hydroelectric dam on the Merced River just below Bridalveil falls. Why not it would help right???
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Old 11-10-04, 08:57 PM
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This is the one single issue that I would love to see happen. Every argument against it seems silly (other than bfrank's argument of wanting it done, but not trusting the "doer"). But to argue that there isn't much there? We don't know that until we drill some test holes. It will take 10 years to get to us? If you had shut up 10 years ago, it would be here now.

I agree with classicman here. Drill off the coasts, the great lakes, the gulf, etc. It can be done well, just like the Alaska Pipeline.
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Old 11-10-04, 09:00 PM
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I support drilling in ANWR, but you also have to increase fuel efficiency, especially for SUV's. Now of course, you're only going to get drilling out of this administration, so it's not really comprehensive in any way. They're basically passing the problem off to the next administration like they do with so many other things.
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Old 11-10-04, 09:25 PM
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Private industry is already investing billions of dollars in fuel efficiency and alternative energy. New laws aren't going to speed up the engineering challenges or make americans buy cars that don't conform to their lifestyle. You can't compare the US to the EU and Japan. They have much higher population densities and even then the public transportation is subsidized by the governments. Places like NYC have nice public transportation systems, but we also have around 20 million people living in the area. It will be very expensive to build public transportation systems in rural areas in other states.

There are already ways to cut fossil fuel consumption, but they are being sued to death by environmentalists.

Last edited by al_bundy; 11-10-04 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 11-10-04, 09:46 PM
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Now of course, you're only going to get drilling out of this administration, so it's not really comprehensive in any way.
The real "push" for fuel efficiency has to come from the consumer in order for it be effective. As more people are already pushing for it I don't really see a reason for the Gov't to get too much more involved IMHO.
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Old 11-10-04, 10:15 PM
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Now of course, you're only going to get drilling out of this administration, so it's not really comprehensive in any way.
This administration, through the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, attempted to pass a rather comprehensive energy bill that including exploration & drilling, funding (though not enough) for the research on alternate forms of energy, reducing the northeasts' usage of home heating oil and switching to natural gas, conservation, and nuclear.

There was no call for increase in CAFE standards because a certain Democratic Senator from Michigan will have none of that.

I believe we need a Secretary of Energy who fully understands the need for a comprehensive approach to energy - a Secretary of Energy who understands that you can't drill your way out; but, you can't conserve your way out either and maintain a 21st Century economy - a Secretary of Energy such as the former Democratic Senator from the energy producing state of Louisiana - John Breaux.
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Old 11-10-04, 10:20 PM
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i don't think the UAW is for raising the CAFE standards either. If you raise CAFE it will cause the big three's profits to plunge and possibly push them into negative territory.

democrats can blame the republicans on this all they want, but they will never vote to raise CAFE
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