Arctic Nat’l Wildlife Refuge is not a pantry

Published 2:35 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

This paper featured a “news” story where Rep. Michele Bachmann compared the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and off-shore sites to a pantry. She seems to think if we open the pantry to drilling, gas will go down to $2 a gallon in spite of experts saying this is not so. I think of a pantry as a place you just pull out canned goods. Ms. Bachmann’s pantry is empty. Any oil we can get from these currently restricted areas won’t be available for years even if all prohibitions are lifted immediately due to lack of available oil drilling rigs for off-shore drilling and conditions in the Arctic. While any domestically produced oil will be useful to reduce our dependence on foreign sources and help our trade deficit, the reality is that oil prices are controlled largely by world oil price factors, not our domestic output. The Republican party including McCain is trying to give the impression that opening up these areas to drilling will be an immediate fix to high gas prices. This is a sham.

Several letters have wailed on Rep. Tim Walz for lack of concern about gas prices. One writer from Woodbury is incensed that Rep. Walz accepts the expert opinion that oil from ANWR will make only a tiny difference in gas prices while believing that Bakken Field (North Dakota) production will be good for the U.S. trade balance. I think all of us are pained by high gas prices. It has made us change some of our habits with a resulting drop in demand and lower prices at the pump. Conservation is one of the answers to high gas prices, although the effects of lower value of the dollar, speculation in oil commodities and increasing demand for oil from China and India can’t be ignored. The reasons for oil prices are complex.

A writer from Mapleton was favoring the Republican endorsed candidate over Dick Day who is running in the Republican primary. However, the writer couldn’t resist throwing in a slam against Rep. Walz. He blames him for “liberal spending” leading to the dollar being devalued and increases in cost of goods. He conveniently ignores the current administration’s hand in putting the costs of the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the wealthy and other spending on our nation’s credit. Sorry, Mapleton writer, I find Rep. Walz a quick study who seems to have a good grasp of the issues. In addition, his experience in the National Guard has positioned him for a leading role in assisting veterans in this “war against terror.” The endorsed Republican candidate for the 1st District may be a good and intelligent candidate, but he is unlikely to be able to help the district or veterans as much as returning Rep. Walz to Congress.

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David Woodruff

Albert Lea