Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who needs caribou anyway?

After all, they're just in the way of the oil at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and that Texas tea must be recovered by any means necessary. Even though the refuge's deposits at most could account only for 2.5 percent of our oil needs. And even though none of the oil would hit the market for at least nine years. And even though the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that less than a full year's supply of the national oil demand could be extracted profitably from the area.

The federal government has required only minimal increases in automakers' fuel-efficiency standards. The federal government has given lip service to efforts to develop alternative fuel sources but hasn't made the research funding a top priority. And the federal government has said fuel conservation is a nice idea in theory but has done little to encourage the American people to engage in it.

Meaningful action on any of those fronts would be a huge step toward weaning our country off its reliance on Middle Eastern oil in the long term. Those actions made good national-security sense well before Sept. 11, 2001, brought the Middle East's instability to our home soil in a catastrophic way, and they make even better sense with each passing day.

But hey, who actually buys into that "plan for the long term" tripe? Certainly not the 51 senators who voted today to dig big holes out where the caribou roam.

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