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September 18, 1987 - Image 68

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

151

1 1

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44

Oil Is Major Issue
For U.S. Congress

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66 FRIDAY, SEPT, 18, 1987
C

A

major decision that
the Congress is ex-
pected to face this fall
will undoubtedly have impor-
tant ramifications for U.S.
foreign policy in the Middle
East and Israel's security —
more than ten years from
now!
And unless our elected
representatives are sufficient-
ly far-sighted, we could pay
dearly for a wrong decision or
inaction. The issue Congress
must decide is whether to
open up a comparatively tiny
portion (1 percent of the total
acreage) of the Arctic Na-
tional Wildlife Refuge
(ANWR — usually referred to
as "Anwar," as in Sadat) for
oil exploration, or designate it
as an inviolate wilderness
area, or by doing nothing pre-
vent development.
For friends of Israel who
recognize the danger of grow-
ing U.S. dependence on
foreign source, and particular-
ly Middle East oil, there
should be little hesitation in
supporting legislation premit-
ting exploration. With the
current flow of close to two
million barrels of oil per day
from the adjacent Prudhoe
Bay field declining steadily
and due to run out by the end
of this century, potential pro-
duction from the new finds in
ANWR would be the only
substitute from a domestic
U.S. source.
Already, the trend of im-
ports is alarming, with
almost half of U.S. oil now be-
ing imported. And while in-
creased conservation
measures and more attention
to the development of alter-
native energy sources must
also be supported, the most
urgent energy issue to come
before the Congress in the
near future will be the issue
of drilling for oil in ANWR.
The debate on Capitol Hill
will be heavily influenced by
the continuing turmoil in the
Persian Gulf, and rightly so.
The large flotilla of American
warships now deployed there
is a telling sign of how energy
dependence dictates foreign
policy.
In this connection, the
latest Joint Program Plan put
out as guidance to 11 national
and 113 community Jewish
agencies by the National
Jewish Community Relations
Advisory Council contains a
very important warning
citing the "inexorable in-
crease in the amount of oil be-
ing imported to the U.S." The

plan also states that "The
ability of our government to
formulte and conduct foreign
policy undominated by
energy considerations, and
without fear of economic
reprisal, must be a clear, con-
scious and fundamental objec-
tive."
Opposition to exploration of
this region comes from en-
viromental groups whose ma-
jor fear is that the caribou
herds may be adversely af-
fected. Experience with
Prudhoe Bay (only 60 miles to
the west) however, shows that
these herds have tripled since
development there. The part
of the Arctic coast in question
is so bleak and remote that
there is hardly any other
place in the entire country
where drilling would have
less adverse impact on both

Caribou vs. oil
dependence is a
major issue facing
the U.S. Congress.

humans and wildlife. In fact,
the few hundred hardy souls
living in this region support
development enthusiastically.
Already, the New York
Times, the Wall Street Jour-
nal, and the Washington Post
have unanimously come down
on the side of development in
three tightly-reasoned
editorials. A respected colum-
nist recently put it this way:
"(if) one has to choose bet-
ween caribou and country, it
is hard to see how there is a
choice."
It will not be easy to allay
all the fears of opponents of
drilling who fear disturbance
of what they call "a unique
ecosystem." They have
mobilized massive letter-
writing campaigns to
members of Congress, many
of whom are loathe to an-
tagonize this vocal consti-
tuency. In the end, however,
common sense, the Prudhoe
Bay experience, and the ef-
ficacy of environmental
safeguards should win the
day.
What remains a difficult
task is to get more people to
realize the inextricable link
between our national securi-
ty and greater energy in-
dependence, and to get the
leadership in the American
Jewish community to
acknowledge how this could
directly impact on future U.S.-
Israel relations.
If Congress acts responsibly
on ANWR, we should all be
able to breathe a little easier.

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