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Friday, May 27, 2005

ExxonMobil: Living in the past

A group of ExxonMobil shareholders Wednesday failed to get the oil giant to adopt a resolution that would have mandated a study on the environmental risks of oil drilling in sensitive locations, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The company is expected to be a leading player in the search for oil if ANWR is opened to exploration.

The resolution, calling for a "biodiversity impact report," can be found here. It was brought forward by the US Public Interest Research Group, and socially responsible investing firms Green Century Capital Management and Clean Yield Asset Management. It received "yes" votes from only 8.1 percent of ExxonMobil shareholers.

Getting stronger support, but still not passing, was another shareholder resolution asking ExxonMobil to disclose its plans for complying with greenhouse gas reduction targets in countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol. This resolution received 28 percent support from shareholders.

ExxonMobil shares the Bush administration's fringe position that the science on climate change is "inconclusive." Yet another shareholder resolution called on ExxonMobil to document its sources for this claim, but received only 10.3 percent support (though that was an increase from last year).

Said Pat Daly, executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investing: “Our primary concern is that, unlike other oil and gas companies, ExxonMobil has no plans to transform the company so it can live in a carbon-constrained world.”

All this contrasts harshly with glossy ads ExxonMobil is running in major magazines lately, including recent issues of The New Yorker that, ironically, contained an eye-opening three-part series on global warming. "We're all for reducing emissions," the ads read. "ExxonMobil refineries capture steam that would otherwise be wasted and use it in the refining process. Recent energy-savinng initiatives like this have had a dramatic effect on emissions: the equivalent of taking well over a million cars off the road, every year."

They don't mention that this is old technology that has been used in other refineries and industrial facilities for many years as a cost-saving measure.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

All about caribou

I just stumbled across the Caribou News blog, which looks like a useful place to keep track of all things caribou. Recent posts, for example, include news article citations from around the globe and references to government documents.

The blog, which came on the scene in February, is the work of Project Caribou, an educator's guide to the wild caribou of North America. This, in turn, is managed by Remy Rodden, conservation education coordinator for the Yukon (Canada) Department of Environment.

The blog appears to be updated about once a week with the latest caribou news. Its parent site looks like a wonderful resource on caribou in general, not just for educators, but for anyone interested in the signature roaming ungulates of ANWR.

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Globe names ANWR top birding spot

The Boston Globe, in a travel story published today, puts the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at the top of its list of ultimate American birding spots.

Says writer Mark Wilson:
"Few would would argue it is the crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system. ... It is an area of heartbreaking beauty."
Wilson goes on to say that visiting remote and rugged ANWR is difficult and not for the fainthearted. But he says this is part of its appeal, and calls it "the trip of a lifetime."

We haven't heard anything about ANWR's value as bird habitat during the ongoing debate over whether the refuge should be opened to oil drilling. Wilson's writeup reminds us that the refuge has value beyond it's oil -- even beyond its caribou and muskoxen.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New report calls for mpg boost, not ANWR drilling

A new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group urges President Bush to support a 40 mpg fuel economy standard for new automobiles instead of ANWR drilling. It notes that:
• Had Bush imposed a 40 mpg standard in 2001, American consumers today would be saving $5 billion at the gas pumps or about $300 per car.

• A 40 mpg standard would save four times more gasoline than ANWR drilling is expected to produce at its peak.

• A 40 mpg standard would save 350,000 barrels of oil per day, or about half of what we now import from Iraq.

• The National Academy of Sciences has already shown that the technology exists to produce safe vehicles that get 40 mpg.

• The Bush administration's own Energy Information Administration has reported that the energy plan recently adopted by the House would actually increase U.S. imports of foreign oil by 85 percent by 2025, and that it will do nothing to reduce gas prices.
"Last month, President Bush wished he had a magic wand to lower gas prices, but with the stroke of an ordinary pen, he could require cars to go farther on a gallon of gas," said Anna Aurilio, Legislative Director for U.S. PIRG. "Instead President Bush continues to push for an energy bill that won't save oil or protect consumers."

This report seems to be mostly a compilation of previously reported facts. But bringing them all together has value, if only to turn up the heat a little on those who have repeatedly voted against common-sense efficiency improvements.

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Alaska citizens subsidize ANWR drilling roads

The state Senate in Alaska on Tuesday approved $2.4 billion in funding for construction and road projects. It includes authorization for Gov. Frank Murkowski's so-called "Roads to Resources" project, which will build and improve roads to access the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in anticipation of oil exploration there.

Roads to Resources includes $37 million of spending for roads, and for a new natural gas pipeline that Murkowski has been trying to get built in the state for years. The Senate's action Tuesday ensures that some of this expense will be covered by "permanent fund" monies, or royalties from oil extraction paid to the state and meant to be disbursed as annual checks to state residents as their share of the royalties.

Not everyone supports this use of the money, including Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage. In effect, it means that Alaska residents are paying to help oil companies access ANWR, when the oil companies should be bearing that expense. I'm sure most residents could find a better use for this money.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Oil in Alaska: Two more flashpoints

The Christian Science Monitor, which is doing some of the best environmental reporting in the "mainstream" press lately, offers up this story today on two more oil-rich areas in Alaska. Both have serious environmental concerns but have been somewhat overshadowed by the ANWR debate.

One is Teshekpuk Lake in National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, located west of ANWR (we looked at it briefly here.) The other is Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, located between the Brooks Range and White Mountains, which probably nobody outside of Alaska has even heard of. (The Monitor story includes a map of the areas.)

The two areas are believed to hold about 1.6 billion barrels of oil, or about one-sixth the estimated reserves of ANWR. Most of it is under Teshekpuk Lake, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants to open it to oil leasing. The mayor of the native North Slope Borough has taken a surprisingly firm stand against oil drilling at Teshekpuk Lake, a fragile area considered sacred for caribou hunting. (See his March 2005 newsletter, a .pdf file available at this site.)

At Yukon Flats, Doyon Ltd., an Athabascan Indian-owned corporation based in Fairbanks, is seeking to trade about 150,000 acres of low-lying wetlands for 110,000 upland acres in the refuge with oil and gas potential. State and federal officials appear to support the swap, but not all Doyon shareholders do.

"I think it's going to hurt the people up here for many years to come," said Ed Alexander, who proposed a resolution opposing drilling that was adopted by the tribal council of Fort Yukon, a village near the proposed drilling. A similar but nonbinding resolution was approved by voice vote at Doyon's annual shareholder meeting in March.

All this has me thinking, again, that the only solution to continued oil conflicts, and the inevitable environmental cost, is conservation and massive investment in alternatives. I know that's not rocket science, but it's not the path we're following now.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Whistleblower's website back online

The website set up several years ago by Chuck Hamel, a former North Slope oil industry employee turned whistleblower, appears to be back online after quite a long period of dormancy.

The site (no relation to this blog), contains hundreds of links to Hamel's whistleblowing activities in the 2001 to 2002 period, in which he revealed numerous worker-safety and environmental violations. But it does not appear to be updated with his more recent activity, some of which we reported recently. It does not even reflect the fact that Alaska now has a new governor.

Even so, it's good to see more signs that Hamel and his supporters are getting active again. He has proven to be adept at getting the mainstream media (and, thus, the public) to pay attention to the realities of arctic oil drilling. I have put in a request to interview Hamel in hopes of learning more about what he's up to.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Off-topic: Replicating robots

This has nothing to do with ANWR. I just thought it was too scary to resist:

U.S. scientists create self-replicating robot
LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York have created small robots that can build copies of themselves.

Each robot consists of several 10-cm (4 inch) cubes which have identical machinery, electromagnets to attach and detach to each other and a computer program for replication. The robots can bend and pick up and stack the cubes.

"Although the machines we have created are still simple compared with biological self-reproduction, they demonstrate that mechanical self-reproduction is possible and not unique to biology," Hod Lipson said in a report in the science journal Nature on Wednesday.

He and his team believe the design principle could be used to make long term, self-repairing robots that could mend themselves and be used in hazardous situations and on space flights.

The experimental robots, which don't do anything else except make copies of themselves, are powered through contacts on the surface of the table and transfer data through their faces. They self-replicate by using additional modules placed in special "feeding locations."

The machines duplicate themselves by bending over and putting their top cube on the table. Then they bend again, pick up another cube, put it on top of the first and repeat the entire process. As the new robot begins to take shape it helps to build itself.

"The four-module robot was able to construct a replica in 2.5 minutes by lifting and assembling cubes from the feeding locations," said Lipson.
It's amazing to me how real life continues to be stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

USGS reports new oil source on North Slope

In a new assessment announced today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a "significant undiscovered" source of oil and natural gas on Alaska's North slope, located between National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The assessment estimates there are 4.0 billion barrels of oil, 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 478 million barrels of natural gas liquids that are undiscovered and technically recoverable. (Technically recoverable resources are the amount of petroleum that may be recovered using current technology.)

By comparison, USGS estimates undiscovered oil of 10.6 billion barrels in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and 10.4 billion barrels in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 area.

The natural gas estimate of 37 trillion cubic feet is said to be found mostly in the southern half of the assessment area in the foothills of the Brooks Range. This is about half of what has been estimated to occur in NPRA and significantly more than has been estimated to occur in ANWR 1002 area.

The region covered by the assessment lies between NPRA and ANWR, and extends from the Brooks Range north to the State-Federal offshore boundary. The assessment area consists mostly of State and Native lands, covering about 23,000 square miles. The population in the area is limited to Prudhoe Bay and other oil-production facilities.

USGS says the assessment is based on a "comprehensive review" of all available geological, geophysical, and geochemical evidence; including hydrocarbon source rocks, reservoir rocks, and traps.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

GoNorth! sets dogsled trip, online classroom for '06

A team of educators and scientists based at the University of Minnesota is planning a dogsled journey to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge starting in February 2006. The goal is to create a live classroom experience on refuge conditions that will be available free to K-12 teachers.

Calling itself GoNorth!, the team will head north from Circle, Alaska, on a two-month, 700-mile journey through ANWR, concluding at Prudhoe Bay. The expedition will explore the environment of ANWR and oil drilling on the North Slope, collect data on weather conditions and climate change, and share their findings live on the internet for teachers and students.

The team includes Dr. Aaron Doering, education director and University of Minnnesota professor; Paul Pregont, expedition leader and research director; and Amy Vargason, a fifth-grade teacher from H.A. Snyder Elementary School in Sayre, Penn., selected to join the trip to provide a grade-school teacher's perspective.

"We will explore the realities of climate change and traditional ecological knowledge, while inviting the public and K-12 classrooms around the world to debate the controversy of oil exploration and the realities of looking for renewable resources," GoNorth! reports on its website, which already includes a variety of interesting classroom materials.

The site also includes lots of chilling photos of the sled-dogging adventurers huddled behind piles of gear on training trips, seeking shelter from bitter winds and blowing snow. So it isn't all fun and games.

Sponsors of the expedition include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Best Buy, Cargill, NASA, the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, and the Alaska Coalition.

The expedition will also spend time in several native communities along the way, including Arctic Village and Kaktovik, with the goal of sharing traditional environmental knowledge with students around the world.

"Elders of the communities will share with teachers, students and scientists how the environment has changed around them and how these changes threaten their culture. A powerful learning experience is derived when scientific environmental data is combined with a living, breathing human element."

Sounds like a noble effort. GoNorth! is seeking donations (tax deductible) to support the trip, if you are so inclined.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Both sides agree: ANWR oil won't change prices

It's funny how these factoids just trickle out over time. Why didn't these questions get asked weeks or months ago?

In any case, this UPI story published in the conservative Washington Times bothers to ask both sides in the debate whether oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will lower gasoline prices for American consumers. Surprisingly, both drilling advocates and foes agree that it won't have any effect.
Because of the way the world's oil market works, experts said the international price effects of drilling in ANWR will be difficult -- maybe even impossible -- to pinpoint. "There's no way drilling in the Arctic is going to change that price," said Kelly Hill Scanlon of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center in Fairbanks.
The piece then quotes Kevin Hand, executive director of drilling lobbyist Arctic power:
"We see a lot of positive economic benefits to drilling," said Hand, including job creation, oil royalties for the state and federal government, and direct payments to Alaska residents. Yet, like Scanlon, when it comes to a direct link between Arctic drilling and gasoline prices at the pump, Hand said "those are a bit more difficult to directly attribute."

Hand later adds that drilling only "allows us some flexibility" should the United States feel the need to increase its oil output.

And yet politicians keep saying that ANWR oil will reduce gas prices, because that's what they think the public wants to hear. But people need to recognize that $2 gasoline isn't going away, not if we drill ANWR, and not if we drill every oil patch left on the planet. The only way to reduce that sting at the pump is to visit the pump less often.

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Murkowski's man: 'Perfect storm' for drilling

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski's representative in D.C., John Katz, says there is a "perfect storm" of factors combining to open ANWR to oil drilling.

Interviewed by Alaska's KTUU television, Katz said that now is the best chance ever to open the refuge to drilling. Katz, director of Murkowski's D.C. office, said there are still significant hurdles because permission for ANWR drilling is contained in the federal budget bill. That bill faces trouble over a number of unrelated issues, including Medicaid funding, tax cuts and concern over the growing federal deficit.

There is also the conflict over the so-called "nuclear option," in which Democrats could shut down the Senate if Republicans try to force through the president's conservative judicial nominees.

Still, said Katz: “I’d have to say that this is our best chance. There's a perfect storm in a sense of the world geopolitical situation, high gas prices, a growing recognition of how important domestic oil production is.”

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Friday, May 06, 2005

'Treasure America' seeks a new path

Triplepundit today announces a new initiative called Treasure America aimed at helping native Alaskans find a more sustainable future that is not dependent on oil revenues. And obviously, the timing couldn't be better. We can only hope it's not too late.

"It may or may not be too late to head off the current legislation, but, project leaders still think there's plenty of room for education and with a little luck, the possibility of making a big difference," Triplepundit's Nick Aster writes.

Just who are those project leaders?
Andrew F. Smith, executive director, business strategy consultant.
Emily Leary, educator, fundraising coordinator and education specialist
Nick Aster, media coordinator, MBA candidate and Triplepundit founder
This is a serious effort with an actual budget, and they're looking to take on volunteers and hire staff. The goal is an "intensive, one-month initiative to promote sound economic policy in the United States and the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along with the economic benefits it provides in its current, natural state."

A bi-partisan team of business people will travel the country analyzing ways that the American public can profit from protecting the Refuge in its pristine state. They intend to convince the public that America’s economic future does not depend on extracting resources from the ground but on business innovation, resource efficiency and human capital. They also plan to show that "there are far faster, cheaper, cleaner, less corrupt and more profitable methods to address America’s energy needs than oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

The team will produce a short documentary film as a consensus building tool for politicians, native Alaskans, oil industry companies and unions promoting oil drilling in the Refuge.

The endeavor also has a key partner in Hunter Lovins, co-founder and co-CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute. She will be providing "insitutional guidance" to Treasure America.

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It's not about the oil. It's about the future.

Pat O'Donnell, president and CEO of the Aspen Skiing Co., makes a surprising and yet welcome argument against ANWR drilling in this column originally published by High Country News.

Why should the snow skiing industry care about ANWR drilling? That's exactly the point of O'Donnell's piece. The straight answer is that his business and even his entire industry will disappear if an energy policy built around ANWR drilling is allowed to proceed. That policy ignores the pressing truths of global warming, which threatens to turn hundreds of ski hills into and billions of dollars in skiing revenue into clouds of dust.

"By deciding to drill in the Arctic Refuge," O'Donnell writes, "we're saying we're unwilling to take any additional steps, no matter how modest, to reduce our dependence on oil, steps that would coincidentally address the greenhouse warming problem and improve national security."

Drilling for oil in ANWR, he writes, perpetuates our old, oil-dependent ways when we should be developing alternatives. And much more is at stake than just the joy of skiing. Also likely are water shortages, more wildfires, more heat-related deaths, a variety of ecological disruptions, and all the economic fallout that goes along with these.

"So this isn't just about the caribou. It's about how we're selling out our children by ruining their chance for the kind of prosperity we enjoyed. It's about how we're selling out our industry and all the other aspects of the West's ski tourism economy ... because we're too lazy or arrogant to make any sacrifice at all, even the relatively painless ones."

When business leaders like O'Donnell begin to stake out positions like this, it's a sure sign the political winds are shifting.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wisconsin students hit the road for ANWR

A group of college students from Wisconsin plans to hit the road this month to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in response to recent Congressional actions to allow oil drilling in the refuge. The eight students from Northland College in Ashland will drive to the refuge to "observe conditions" and meet with scientists, teachers and other students.

"A bunch of us decided that we needed to give our bodily presence to this issue and also help our own communities become more aware of what was actually going on up there," said student Leah Olm.

The group intends to return with a report that includes scientific material and artistic representations to raise local awareness. Art Major Emily Pimm, one of the travelers, said she is saddened by how oil drilling might affect the lands and indigenous peoples. "To think of that as being gone or taken away because someone wants to drive their cars with more gas, it seems ridiculous to me," she said.

OK, but aren't you driving up there?

Oh well. The students will receive academic credit for the project, and will present their findings to the community when they return in June.

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Arctic Power fires two in Anchorage

Arctic Power, the leading group lobbying for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, on Monday fired its executive director and a project manager in its Anchorage office, the Anchorage Daily News reports today (signup required).

The move comes after unusual criticism of the group's spending when the state Legislature recently approved $1.3 million in additional taxpayer support, on top of a total of $10 million taxpayers have given to Arctic Power over the past 13 years. This, in fact, represents the lion's share of all funding Arctic Power has received.

The lobby's executive committee met Monday and trimmed the Anchorage office's monthly overhead from $31,500 to $7,500, said Al Adams, a former state senator who chairs Arctic Power's board. The jobs of Arctic Power's executive director Kevin Hand and project manager Adrian Herrera were cut during a session closed to the public. The only person remaining in the Anchorage office is Elaine Royal, who handles membership and finance.

A handful of lawmakers recently questioned Arctic Power's spending habits and whether the Anchorage office was necessary, given that most of the persuading that needs to happen takes place in D.C. This prompted some intervention by the office of Gov. Frank Murkowski.

"We have urged them to find every way to cut their costs and focus their efforts on D.C.," said Becky Hultberg, Murkowski's spokeswoman.

Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, said Arctic Power has "gotten habituated to a lot of cash" but operates without much accountability. He said Hand was virtually inaccessible and rarely responded to his calls or letters. Hand was paid a healthy $7,500 a month.

The lobby's board also formed a new oversight committee to provide better control of spending. "Even they recognize this was an organization that may be fairly inefficient, given the incredible amount of money they received," said another critic, Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer. "If they can do it all now with a third of the staff and they're dismissing people, I wish they had done this a long time ago."

The timing is certainly interesting, especially considering the new state funding for Arctic Power was still approved by an overwhelming margin.

There is nothing about the changes on Arctic Power's websites. Instead, the latest news at is this unusual advice to save money on gas: Get a new credit card and use it just for fuel. Hmm... I guess they really have become addicted to the state's largesse.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Grist features Millikin of Green Car Congress

The online environmental magazine features a Q & A with Mike Millikin of the Green Car Congress blog in its "Interactivist" column today. Readers can also submit questions that Millikin will answer on Friday.

If you're not familiar with Green Car Congress, I urge you to make it a regular stop. It's one of the most useful blogs going, and one of the most timely. As the world slowly runs out of oil, what could be more important than helping people come to terms with their transportation choices? That's what GCC does.

As Millikin says in the Grist exchange:
"Given our increasing understanding of climate change and peak oil, we (global we, not just us) need to make the broadest-scale, most rapid transition of behavior, technologies, and markets ever conceived. We don't have all the answers, but we need urgently to figure it out. This must be done from a broad basis of knowledge and understanding, not fear and reaction. My goal is to help that process."
And he helps indeed. Millikin is amazing at dredging up sustainable transportation news from all over the globe. It's a great one-stop shop for those interested in modern mobility.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Our energy problem: We've stopped evolving

I had an interesting experience yesterday that got me thinking about our energy predicament in America. I was enjoying a cheap meal out at a local restaurant, and my table afforded a view of the street.

Outside, a massive car show formed in a parking lot across the street. It looked impromptu and chaotic, and featured mostly young people showing off dozens of 1970s-era American coupes and sedans. More arrived throughout my meal, until the street was literally jammed with cars and the sound of their stereos and engines. It was an entertaining scene and the cars were beautiful.

But when I paid my bill and walked outside, my nose knocked my brain in gear. The unfiltered exhaust from these vintage cars was palpable. A two-block section of four-lane street was being gassed to death by these cars, vaporizing a precious resource in the name of noise and shine.

I'm not saying it wasn't fun. But I don't think you can call it good, clean fun. Not anymore. Not in 2005, after 30 years of evolution in the internal-combustion engine.

But it got me thinking: Have we evolved?

There is food for thought in the news. The New York Times reported Sunday that demand for oil in America has increased by 38 percent since the last major gasoline crisis in this country in 1973. In contrast, European nations have reduced their oil consumption over the same time period, or at least kept it in check.

After the oil crisis in 1973 (when many of those car-show rides were new) this nation took major strides to increase energy efficiency, and our oil consumption declined. We required automakers to increase the average miles-per-gallon of the cars they produce. This nearly doubled the national vehicle efficiency to 27.5 mpg in 1987 from 14 in 1972. We also imposed a 55 mph speed limit nationwide.

As a result, gasoline consumption remained below the 1978 peak for 15 years, until the SUV came along. Since then, our gas consumption has been on a steep incline, and national fuel efficiency has slipped to 24 mpg. (Because SUVs are classified as trucks, they don't have to achieve the same average mpg as cars, even though people use them like cars.)

In passing the nation's new 2005 energy bill last week, Congress embraced drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and rejected an amendment that would have required automakers to increase fleet-average mpg. Even Michigan Democrats rejected the amendment, repeating the lie that higher mpg standards would make vehicles less safe.

Even the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, newspaper for one of the most oil-lathered communities in America, saw the falacy in this decision in an editorial published Sunday:
"...the Star-Telegram Editorial Board believes that Congress should support drilling for oil in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, because it is among the premier petroleum prospects in the United States. But drilling should be permitted there only if Congress also adopts significantly higher vehicle mileage standards.

"Eventually, the "end-of-oil" scenario looms -- the day when there aren't enough petroleum deposits left in the world to meet global demand. Those nations that have failed to diversify their energy supplies away from fossil fuels could experience alarming declines in their economies and living standards."

Or as Steven Nadel of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy put it so well in the Times: "We are in a boxing match, and the president keeps one hand tied to his back. We're punching with supplies and not using demand. We're at a disadvantage."

Which brings me back to the car show. The internal-combustion engine has evolved. Today's cars burn fuel much more cleanly than they did in 1970. Put a similar number of modern cars together and you probably wouldn't be able to smell them.

But a generation later, they still don't use fuel much more efficiently. We've saddled ourselves to old technology out of nostalgia and ignorance, when better choices are within reach. It would be like opting to watch streaming video over a dialup connection on a Mac Classic because we just aren't willing to learn how to use a Power Mac G5 and a cable modem.

Even logging companies, when they clearcut a forest, plant seedlings so they'll have more wood to cut 80 years hence. Today we are throwbacks, blindly hammering at the Earth for another tank of gas without even considering that it may be our last.

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