WASHINGTON - June 3 - Congress is wasting its time pushing for more oil and gas drilling in Wildlife Refuges and other wild places, since those places hold too little to influence world markets and more drilling could ruin private ranchlands and public wildlands in Alaska and the Rocky Mountain West.
That was the consensus of a panel of experts on a teleconference held today in anticipation of Energy Week, a series of highly politicized votes scheduled for next week by the House Republican leadership. House leaders have indicated they will hold votes next week on their subsidy-laden energy bill, a proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and other controversial measures.
Make no mistake. This has nothing to do with lowering gas prices and everything to do with hardball energy politics, said Jim Waltman, Director of Refuges and Wildlife Programs at The Wilderness Society. Rather than putting forward proposals to address the nations real energy needs, the House leadership will roll out the proverbial dead horse and resume the beating.
Industry has consistently claimed that too many oil and gas resources are off-limits, but the facts just dont back that up, said Peter Morton, PhD, a resource economist with The Wilderness Society in Denver. The majority of oil and gas in the Rockies is available for drilling and has been for a long time in fact, they are only drilling on 25 percent of the leases they already have.
What we need are laws with teeth to protect landowners, said Marge West, whose Wyoming ranch has been badly damaged by a rush of drilling for coal-bed methane. Provisions in HR 6, the previously-passed House energy bill, would encourage more destructive drilling on public lands, and undermine environmental-protection rules on oil exploration and drilling. Speaking about contaminated water discharged from coal-bed methane drilling, West said, Its bad stuff. It killed the native grasses and mature trees. They agreed to rehabilitate the hay meadows, but this was 3 years ago and they still have done nothing.
Participants pointed to multiple reports, including several produced by the Energy Departments independent statistical arm, the Energy Information Agency, that found the Houses energy proposals in general, and Arctic Refuge and other public lands drilling in particular, would do nothing to bring down rising oil prices. One recent analysis found that certain provisions in the legislation would actually raise prices further.
Click here for links to the reports