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The 15-Year Effort By Oil Industry To Raid The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Cheryl Seal

George W. Bush is determined to win the big prize other hardened-conscienced politicos-including his father - have tried to win for their corporate cronies: the right to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. George Bush Sr. tried to get the refuge opened to oil drilling back in the late 1980s - then had his scheme derailed by the public scrutiny unleashed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

In 1991, Senator J. Bennett Johnson of Louisiana - a Democrat, I am ashamed to say - made an all-out lobbying assault to ram through an energy bill that would have included opening the refuge up to oil companies and accelerating the licensing of nuclear power plants. He called in his troops - the Wexler Group, a lobbying outfit that has ties with executives and lobbyists from a veritable arsenal of industries. Meanwhile, Johnston tried to bring the clout of Johnston's energy and natural resources committee to bear as well. The only real opposition to the bill was the public - which was intentionally kept in the dark as much as possible (hence the drilling was sneaked in under a general bill).

Now, ten years later, Dubya figures it's his big chance. He’s taking no chances - the oil spill in the Galapagos - an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions, given the extraordinary evolutionary uniqueness of the islands, is being kept hushed up by his cronies at the corporate media. No pictures of oil-coated, dying wildlife this time to screw things up!

The point is, if the current so-called “energy crisis” is the supposed reason we “must” drill in the arctic, why has drilling in the arctic been such an important goal for the oil industry even during times of NO energy crisis? Because they want to clean up by selling the oil to foreign countries that will pay more than the U.S. does.

This has been the pattern in most schemes to trash the wilderness. Quebec, for example, shoved a massive, environmentally awful hydro project down the throats of the Canadian people, “for their own good,” then once the project was completed, shipped a good part of the power to the U.S.

Pristine parts of the Maine woods were clear-cut - hundreds of thousands of acres-back in the 1980s to “help the economy.” Know where most of the wood money ended up? Japan and Scandinavia and, of course, in the pockets of a few industrial power brokers. The Arctic Wildlife Refuge will be no different. By the time it is built, our energy crisis - be it real or concocted - will be long over. But the corporate profits to be made by selling oil gained at a loss to the American public will really start rolling in.