Social and Political Commentary

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Fuels Today

... Ongoing arguments about developing oil fields in Alaska

Len Dalton


Green peace notwithstanding, the American conservation compulsives continue their rage against the World Trade Organization, as well as any effort to offer a degree of relief from the onslaught of OPEC in looting western economies. They are not entirely in error.

Currently their efforts are focused on the Bush/Cheney thrust in oil exploration and development in the Alaskan Wildlife refuge located on the Alaskan north coast or the Beaufort Sea. The area borders the Canadian Territory of Yukon and the most northerly parts are actually in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The hue and cry claims that any development in that area would despoil it and bring both bird and animal life to near extinction throughout the Refuge. Not so.

With the development of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields and the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, I have heard of no negatives as they might apply to wildlife. Government efforts have not only minimized the prospect of environmental injury but they have insured that the area be protected against any environmental injury, including earthquakes. If injury had occurred, you can bet the environmentalists would have long-since capitalized on it to make their cases. Unlike the Wyoming fossil fuel deposits, the north coast of Alaska is otherwise a most barren and flat area largely unoccupied.

While the OPEC interests continue to manipulate our economies via high oil prices, large fuel reserves in Alaska and Wyoming go undeveloped. In a perverse sense, the unsanctioned sale of oil from Iraq is an aid to the United States and as a result they are allowed to continue smuggling. The dependency on OPEC oil also is a governing factor in the relations between the United States, Israel and the Muslim nations, all of whom have sworn to the extermination of Israel. Were the fuel deposits in Wyoming and Alaska fully utilized this country and its economy would be far less subject to the whims of OPEC. The use of coal has taken a big hit until now. Burning coal has in the past corrupted the atmosphere and had fallen into dis-favor with good reason. The rise in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is a factor in the Global Warming idea. Fortunately, the world's oceans absorb most of the offending gasses, but there is enough left over to cause big trouble. Now, technology has arrived which would allow the burning of coal without issuing of offending levels of carbon dioxide. Every ton of coal used for energy means less OPEC fuels used to hurt our economy.

Eastern Canada has built prodigious hydro-electric schemes in Labrador as well as in the Radisson development in Quebec. In Labrador, the government of Quebec has locked up the sale of electric energy from the Churchill River and now the Radisson development, one of the largest hydro developments in the world and located on James Bay, offers much of that energy to the eastern United States. Any hydro energy we buy and use means less dependency on OPEC.

To the extent of the hostility of environmentally conscious groups, OPEC profits and the people of the United States suffer. I urge a more responsible outlook by these people in the interest of the future of the United States with less dependency on OPEC.

May 7, 2001

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