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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Murkowski: Washington state needs ANWR oil

Frank Murkowski, governor of Alaska, writes a column in today's Seattle Times in which he tries to convince Washington state residents that their economy depends on ANWR oil.

In my opinion, it rings hollow, employs limp rhetoric, and relies on the familiar stretching of the numbers that we've come to expect from drilling supporters (of course, both sides are guilty of this). Murkowski even stumbles and delivers what many Washington residents will perceive, I suspect, as an insult:

"Washington alone consumes 18 million gallons of petroleum daily. Apparently, not everyone is traveling to their destinations on bicycles."

In saying this, he seems to be suggesting two things: 1) That Washington residents are not as environmentally minded as they are perceived to be; and 2) Traveling by bicycle is silly.

He then tries to argue that we should drill for oil in ANWR because environmental protections will be more rigorous than if we drilled in foreign countries. This is like saying we should let graffiti artists loose in the Sistine Chapel because, well, downtown alleys are already covered in graffiti. It just doesn't make sense as a logical argument. If drilling regulations aren't tough enough in Saudi Arabian or Venezuelan oilfields, the solution is not to start over in an unspoiled place. No, the solution is to tighten drilling regulations wherever we drill.

He goes on to threaten that, without ANWR oil, Washington will become a haven for "foreign ships with foreign crews, built in foreign shipyards." Mr. Murkowski, obviously, knows nothing about the shipping business. Virtually all cargo ships are already foreign in every respect, because their owners (including their American owners) want to avoid paying American taxes and American wages, and heeding American safety regulations.

I'm parotting Murkowski's rhetoric here. He uses the word "America" or "American" no few than 10 times in his essay.