The Anti-Oil Politics of Congress

One of the very few positive things to come out of the Jimmy Carter presidency was the 1980 setting aside of a portion of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil production.  Perhaps I should clarify and say that the 1980 Congress enacted on the measure as I hesitate to give Carter credit for anything positive.

However, in his typical tree hugger policy, Bill Clinton vetoed further development of the ANWR, effectively cutting off access to millions of barrels of oil that would have helped reduce America’s independence on foreign oil.  Clinton killed many measures that would have helped the American people, but did so because of his personal environmental beliefs.

In 2005, under the presidency of George W Bush, Congress once again took up the issue of the vast oil reserves in the ANWR.  The House and Senate each passed their own versions, but as usual, they differed from each other and the two sides never did come to any agreement and the issue of Alaskan oil was eventually dropped.

So here we are in 2012, some 32 years since Congress first approved of ANWR oil drilling and once again we are hearing of $4 and $5 a gallon gasoline prices at the pumps.  In today’s struggling economy, $5 per gallon of gas would be devastating to many small businesses, forcing many of them to either lay off more workers or close their doors to business.  It would also lead to drastic increases in the cost of consumer products and food supplies as everything in the US is transported from one place to another.

The House of Representatives has decided to tackle the ANWR oil reserve once again.  Earlier this month, they took action on four measures, some of which have been sent to the Senate for approval.  Among the House bills is a measure to force the Department of Interior to allow access to a small section of the ANWR for oil drilling.  According to one expert, the area is about the size of Dulles International Airport in Washington DC.  Other provisions in the House bills include opening up oil and natural gas drilling on other federal lands and the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmentalists are all up in a snit over the House measures.  It seems they would rather see more Americans lose their jobs, homes and dignity over a ‘what if’ hypothetical environmental disaster that may or may not ever happen.

The question now lies with whether or not the Democratic controlled Senate will pass the House measures or will they remain true to form and play their political games regardless of the negative impact it could have on the American people.