Exploiting the Military to Drill for Oil in Alaska
Senator Ted Stevens, Republican from Alaska, has stooped to a new low by attaching a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling to a bill to fund the nation's military defense. "I am just doing my utmost to do my job, which is to try and get [drilling] approved," Stevens said Thursday.
The oil beneath the refuge will not make this country any less dependent on foreign oil. It won't lower fuel prices or pay for Katrina relief. In fact, no amount of oil drilling on the Alaska North Slope will change the fact that the Trans Alaska Pipeline System is set by industry to operate at a maximum of 1 million barrels of oil a day, regardless of how much oil is found. Oil companies operating in Alaska already have at least 30 years of oil supply lined up without drilling in the Arctic refuge.This morning, Operation Truth Executive Director and Iraq veteran Paul Rieckhoff responded to the Senator's desperate attempt.
However, the issue of Arctic drilling has become so freighted with politics that the facts no longer seem to matter.
Now Arctic drilling has been thrown in with the defense bill and the emotionally charged matter of supporting American troops at a time of war. It does not belong there, something that ought to be obvious to all but the most cynical members of Congress.
"Any move to insert a controversial Arctic drilling measure in the FY2006 Defense Appropriations bill is an action is that is clearly, unmistakably, and patently anti-Troop. Lest the Senate leadership forget, we are at war on two major fronts - Iraq and Afghanistan - where many of our Servicemembers are making the ultimate sacrifice everyday. If the proper is held up in Congress because of this legislative game, more will be put at risk than necessary.A Senate debate is expected to begin as early as Saturday. Many Republicans also say the Arctic drilling measure does not belong in a military appropriations bill.
I served in Iraq and talk with hundreds of people still in the field and those who have returned home. I am putting the Leadership on notice - holding up money for our Troops will do more to hurt morale than any debate over the course of the war ever could. If any Senator delays the Military appropriations bill by supporting the insertion of non-germane, controversial amendments, they have absolutely no right to ever claim to 'Support the Troops' again.
We must show we are not losing focus on supporting the Troops. As the latest Republican Party ad says, 'Our country is at war; our soldiers are watching. And our enemies are, too.'"
A group was drafting a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) saying that senators "ought not to exploit... the well-being of our troops" to advance the drilling measure.Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, said he would filibuster the bill if it includes the oil provision. "The defense appropriations bill -- the bill to take care of the fighting men and women of the United States -- is being held up because they can't figure out a way to grovel and satisfy the oil companies."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a drilling opponent, said he wasn't sure how he would vote if the bill included the drilling measure.
"That's the dilemma," McCain said in an interview. "I think it's disgraceful I have to be put in that position."
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), another drilling opponent, said that adding the measure to the military appropriations bill would make the vote "very uncomfortable for me."