Environmentalists, conservationists on the attackgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Environmentalists, conservationists on the attack The Associated Press
2/8/01 1:24 AM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Sen. John Breaux, D-La., came under fire from a coalition of environmental and conservation groups on Wednesday for calling for oil drilling in Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The groups said at a news conference they were equally disturbed that Breaux is holding up Louisiana as a model for environmentally friendly oil and gas production.
"For years, Sen. Breaux has broadcast the plight of our coastal wetlands, which are disappearing at a shocking rate each year. Sen. Breaux knows very well that the negative environmental impacts of petroleum exploration and production have been a significant cause of this loss," said Nathalie Walker, managing attorney for the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund's New Orleans office.
Harold Schoeffler of Lafayette, conservation chairman of the Sierra Club's Delta Chapter in Louisiana, said 25 square miles of Louisiana's coastal wetlands disappear annually, and the oil industry is partly to blame.
"If Louisiana is the example, just fly over our coast and see what will happen (in the Arctic)," Schoeffler said.
"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must be protected," added Aaron Viles with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group's Gulf States field office. "There is simply no place on Earth like it. Many of the refuge's most striking attributes would be threatened by oil and gas exploration."
In a telephone interview, Breaux defended his stance on drilling in the Alaskan refuge.
"The wildlife refuges in Louisiana are far more complicated wetlands than they have in Alaska, and yet we have had over 60 years a great deal of production," he said. "We made mistakes 60 years ago in the 1940s. We've learned from those mistakes.
"We have a laboratory -- Louisiana -- of how to do it and how not to do it," Breaux added. "We've learned how to do it right. It's not without risk. It's not perfect."
Larry Wall, a spokesman for the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association in Baton Rouge, also responded to the comments made at Wednesday's news conference, saying drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge "makes perfect sense."
Wall said an estimated 16 billion barrels of oil sit underneath the Alaskan refuge, and the oil industry has 100 years of drilling experience.
The industry has proven, particularly in Louisiana, that "wildlife can coexist with the oil and gas industry," Wall said.
"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a natural resource, but so is oil and natural gas," he said.
The press conference was a response to a commentary printed Jan. 18 in the Wall Street Journal in which Breaux said the United States has a "golden opportunity to start correcting our underlying energy problem: domestic oil exploration."
"Our oil problem rests not in lack of product, but in our refusal to use our natural resources. There are huge regions in the U.S. that, by acts of Congress or presidential order, have been placed off-limits to oil and gas exploration, depriving us of billions of barrels of oil and natural gas," Breaux wrote.
"I believe that, in areas where we have sound environmental protections in place, it makes sense to tap our own country's natural resources."
Breaux asked, "If Louisiana can do it, why can't Alaska?"
"Expanding drilling in Alaska alone will not satisfy America's increasing demand for energy," he cautioned. "But opening the Arctic Refuge to domestic oil exploration would be a significant first step to ensuring all Americans have both affordable energy and a clean environment."
Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
-- Swissrose (email@example.com), February 08, 2001
"Only when the last deer is hunted, the last tree is cut down, and the last fish is eaten, will the white man understand that money cannot be eaten". Seneca, Indian Chieftain in the 1800's.
-- Swissrose (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 08, 2001.
I believe that progress and the environment can exist together. The problem is the nimcompoop management that looks only at the bottom line with no regard to humans or the environment. Professor Deming castigated these knuckleheads in many of his books.
-- David Williams (DAVIDWILL@prodigy.net), February 09, 2001.