Senator Boxer opposes oil drilling in the Artic Refuge

Statement by Senator Barbara Boxer, introduction of the Wilderness Bill

provided by Sen. Barbara Boxer

et's not delude ourselves. No one here should be fooled. Efforts to open the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling are not about addressing the nation's energy woes. It took millions of years to create this incredible place. George Bush and Dick Cheney are willing to destroy it so that their powerful friends in the oil business can get a six month supply of oil.

    We would never drill for oil in the Grand Canyon; we'd never commit such desecration in Yosemite; and we shouldn't destroy the equally magnificent Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    According to the US Geological Survey, there are only 3.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil in the Arctic Refuge enough to fuel our nation for only 6 months. And it would take ten years before that oil would even reach the market. Over the long-term, drilling in the Arctic Refuge won't lessen our reliance on foreign oil and it won't deliver fair prices at the pump in the upcoming summer months.

    However, it will bring roads and pipelines into the Refuge that will destroy this precious wildlife habitat. It will mean oil spills that pollute area water. It will ruin one of the world's last great remaining wilderness areas. And it will threaten the quality of life for 7,000 American and Canadian Indians that rely on the Refuge's caribou for their livelihood.

    Frankly, if we were serious about ending our dependence on foreign oil, our first step would be to prohibit the overseas export of Alaska's North Slope oil. If we were serious about addressing our nation's energy needs we'd pour money into the development of fuel cells and hybrid automobiles. At a minimum, we'd take the relatively easy step of increasing air emission standards for light trucks and SUVs. This action alone would save millions of barrels of oil and prevent the need to consider entering wildlife sanctuaries.

    The truth is that there are wild, sacred places that should be shielded from the oil and gas industry's voracious appetite places where we tell the oil and gas industry that they are not welcome.

    Bush's dreams of striking it rich in the Arctic Refuge may sound promising to a public facing high prices at the gas pump, but these are false promises based on myths that we cannot afford to buy into.

    That is why I am a proud cosponsor of the legislation we are introducing today. It designates the Arctic Refuge as wilderness, which is the highest form of federal protection available. It is our best hope of preventing President Bush's shortsighted plan from becoming reality.

    There is only one real long-term remedy for the nationwide energy headache: a balanced, responsible, long-term energy policy. We owe it to this generation and the next to make sound energy decisions that meet our needs without sacrificing the quality of our air, our water and our land.

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