Wrong Tactic for ANWR
The Democrats, and by extension their friends in the environment lobby, now have control over Congress. Which means the end of efforts to drill in ANWR. Yay! But, according to CNN, the issue is not dead to this Congress. Apparently their are efforts afoot to declare ANWR a “wilderness” and permanently ban drilling.
Now, I am not an environmental scientist and I am unfamiliar with ANWR’s current designation (wasn’t already a wilderness?) but I am familiar with our governmental system and this seems awfully stupid. Here’s why…
There is a current belief that legislation is required to open ANWR to drilling. That is the status quo. Passing new legislation doesn’t change that situation. It’s not “double” protected. New legislation can always repeal old legislation. The only way to protect something from legislative alteration is to enshrine it in the Constitution. A move even this green would vote against. If the bill were to ball it just means that the legislation to open drilling has to address the current provision which bans drilling and this new provision. Essentially, it maintains the status quo.
But it could actually do harm, depending on certain court rulings. See, if Congress votes on but doesn’t not pass the bill then the Bush Administration can make an attempt to open ANWR through Dept. of Interior administrative regulation. The environmentalists will sue, arguing the existing provision protects the area. But then the Bush Administration comes back and says, “are you sure? Congress doesn’t seem to think so, or else it wouldn’t have consider legislation to make the protect explicit.” Which means the issue is unclear and gives the department deference to make a determination.
Which makes Rep. Markey’s bill both unnecessary and risky. If you want to protect ANWR the only way to do it is to keep a majority of one of the chambers on your side. Anything short of that is just grandstanding to look good in the papers.