Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ANWR bait-and-switch

When the Trans-Alaska pipeline was authorized in 1973, legislators wanted to make sure that an oil-starved America would receive all the pipeline's oil. And, it did until 1995, when Alaska's senior senator after years of effort got an export ban on Alaskan oil lifted. The net effect of the ban was to lower oil prices on the West Coast and deprive Alaska of the extra revenue it would have received from selling its oil on the world market at prevailing prices.

Roll forward 22 years and you find the same debate. The Alaskans have argued that the oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is critical to America's energy future. And, they convinced 51 senators to go along with drilling in a budget bill. (A final showdown looms ahead that will decide whether the drilling will survive.) But, if drilling is approved this year, where will that oil go? The legislation authorizing the drilling contains no ban on exports. So, instead of securing America's energy future, it might well be securing Japan's.

I think it's called bait-and-switch. Stores that do it break the law. Politicians that do it often get re-elected.

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