Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Short Takes

A few of the things I thought worth mentioning this morning:

- Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives, all four of them (in fact all eight initiatives on CA ballots yesterday) went down to defeat. This is unfortunate, at least from a redistricting angle - I hope that the governor will continue to push for legislative action on that front as we move forward.

- The House may vote as early as today or tomorrow on a budget package which includes provisions to open ANWR for oil drilling. That vote is reportedly "too close to call." Rep. Sherry Boehlert, a centrist Republican (and my congressman) who opposes drilling told the Washington Post "Hope springs eternal that we can pull the rabbit out of the hat. I really do think moderates are coming into their own. We're flexing our muscles collectively." Now's the time, if ever there was one!

- Linda Greenhouse's "Supreme Court Memo" from this morning's Times is well worth a read, as is a Douglas Jehl report that an internal CIA memo issued last year warned that some tactics being used by the Agency against detainees "might violate some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture."


At 1:22 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I wonder if Centrists are split on ANWR or if I'm one of the few who really doesn't have a problem with it. The way I see it, we need more energy and even if it takes awhile to extract what's there (and even if there's not much there) we'll still get a fairly good-sized amount and we'll get it well before any alternative energy sources are ubiquitous.

I dunno. I guess I'd rather spend my time and energy on 1) developing alternative energy sources and 2) figthing for the preservation of natural wilderness I might actually get a chance to see as opposed to one so remote that almost no one will ever go there.

Seems to me the ANWR debate is more about grand principles than it is about the specific case. But maybe I'm wrong.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger pacatrue said...

I think it is somewhat about the general principle. There's a feeling that if you will drill in ANWR there is no place that can be protected. If there's money to be made, then it's gonna be made, no matter what. Even if you take the most remote tract of land in the entire nation where very few people live and say, "here in this remote arctic land, we are going to stop developing and just keep something the way it has always been, far away from people and cities and the needs for housing and malls and everything else," it turns out we'll pave over the thing too if we can eek something out of it. I confess I'm not an environmentalist (and I do know that they won't pave over ANWR literally) and cannot seriously debate the ecological value of this land. But at the same time, I have this thought "can't we leave any tract of land in the entire nation to nature?" Maybe instead of drilling ANWR we could up the MPG numbers a bit and save the land? To be honest, if ANWR were part of a comprehensive package with true, serious conservation and alternative fuels, which plausibly argued that we could lessen our dependence on foreign oil by 50%, I could maybe go for it. But it's not. Drilling is always the first option.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Alan, I'll associate myself with paca's comments, and will add that I think we've got to look at other alternatives rather than ANWR. Raising fuel efficiency would do so much more, without the ten years of lag-time for development. So would lowering speed limits. So would incentives for developing alternative technologies. Feeding our addiction on oil's not the answer, especially if it involves destruction of pristine habitat (regardless of if I'll ever see it).

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


You know, I'm very much a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist. The point to preserving the land is not just to preserve it, but so that we can engage it. I love national and state parks and am a big hiker. If someone wanted to drill in Lost Maples (a great Texas park) I'd be throwing a fit. But ANWR ... I just can't get excited about it because it's not land that any of us can actually engage. But the problem for me is I can't really decipher where the rhetoric ends and the truth begins on this issue. If we really are going to get very little out of this, then why disturb the land? If we are going to get a good deal, then I think it makes sense as we can't just stop drilling for oil--not until we have a more viable energy source. Otherwise the cost of energy would become a huge burden.

Part of the problem is that we don't even know how much oil is there until we drill. I wonder how much damage it would cause to jsut drill a few explorative wells? Maybe they've already done that. As I said, ANWR just doesn't get me excited and I'm sure my ignorance is showing. Oddly, that doesn't keep me from commenting.

Given how many sensible people, like yourself, are against exploration in ANWR, I have to question exactly what I'm missing.


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