<\body> Stories in America: Exploiting the Military to Drill for Oil in Alaska

Friday, December 16, 2005

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.

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.
This morning, Operation Truth Executive Director and Iraq veteran Paul Rieckhoff responded to the Senator's desperate attempt.
"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.

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 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.
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.

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."
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."


At 12/16/2005 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all that surprising to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with how pork spending works in Washington.

In fact, McCain and many Republicans have voted against a bill(s) to increase veterans benefits because of all the wildly excessive pork spending attached to them that had nothing whatsoever to do with funding vets.

At 12/16/2005 3:51 PM, Anonymous j said...

That's the problem we're facing today. We easily say, "Not Surprsing" and go on with life as usual. If the people sporting "support our troops" ribbons knew what was going on - if Bill O'Reilly, Rush, Hannity, etc...the guys who really "support" the trops took on this issue - it wouldn't happen. As usual, using the powerless (the troops) to give special favors to the rich. It's truly disgusting. Happy Friday, Rose.

At 12/17/2005 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love of pork is the ultimate bi-partisan issue. It's something so entrenched in the political process I doubt even the combined superpowers of Bill O' Reilly, Rush, and Hannity could stop it if they wanted to. (Although I’m sure they would be flattered at your tremendous faith in their influence.)

And what's this stuff about "the guys who really "support" the troops?" Are you suggesting that people who don't have support-the-troop ribbons on their cars are anti-troop-supporters? (whatever the hell that means anyway) And why delegate all the heavy lifting to fix a problem that crosses party lines to conservatives?

At 12/17/2005 8:29 PM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Not at all. I support the troops by exposing the fact that they're not receiving proper care upon returning home. The majority of the people I've met who sport "Support Our Troops" ribbons on their cars are Republicans who believe the Republican Party is taking care of the troops, which couldn't be futher from the truth. This isn't the case for all Republicans of course, but they are in the majority and their voting records speak louder than their rhetoric.

"If the American public actually knew of the deficiencies in VA healthcare, they would be outraged," says David Gorman, executive director of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), a 1.2 million-member group that represents disabled veterans. "It's really changed to become an us against them-type mentality on Capitol Hill. Right now the Republicans have the majority and they flex their muscle whenever they have a chance. It doesn't do the country any good and doesn't do the vets any good."

In April, Republican senators, including Rick Santorum, R-Pa., John McCain, R-Ariz. and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., voted to defeat a Democratic effort to add $2 billion to the 2005 VA healthcare budget. The only Republican who voted in favor of the bill was Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

"Democrats are the ones supporting the troops. Republicans aren't supporting us," says Bill Huber, Disabled American Veterans Hospital Coordinator in Muskogee, Oklahoma and Korean Veteran. "I'm 71 years old and I've been around a while. The problem is, veterans don't protest. We take what we get. I'm the president of our DAV chapter and I tell my people to write to their congressmen. They just sit back and let our lobbyists do it. They can't do it by themselves; we have to help them."


At 12/18/2005 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider the following:

The Veterans budget increased $20 billion in 4 years. The total VA budget has been increased from $47.5 billion in FY2001 to $67.6 billion in the FY2005 – a 42 percent increase in just four years.

Veterans medical care funding Increased 38.7 percent in 4 years — from $21.6 billion in the FY2001 budget to just under 30 billion in the FY2005.

A record number of veterans are receiving health care today. As a result over 5 million veterans will receive health care services this year, more than 1.2 million more than just four years ago.

Significantly, veterans waiting lists reduced by 99 percent. The number of veterans on VA’s medical long term waiting lists has dropped from over 300,000 in 2002 to just over 3,000 today.

Consider the historic new $22 Billion Concurrent Receipt Benefit — after more than a century of inaction by the federal government, Congress last year approved an historic concurrent receipt benefit for veterans that will provide over $22 billion to more than 250,000 disabled military retirees over the next ten years.

The GI Bill has been boosted a record 46 percent since 2001. As a result of legislation approved in 2001, the GI Bill educational benefit was boosted by 46 percent, raising the lifetime benefit for qualified veterans from $23,400 to $35,460.

At 12/18/2005 11:11 PM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Care to back up your stats, anonymous?

At 12/18/2005 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I do, will you say you're sorry?


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