Unbeknownst to 99% of Americans, but Congress passed a bill last week to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska from oil drilling. The bill is titled the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, and the intent is to refute a controversial provision the Trump Administration put in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that mandated oil and gas drilling in that area. Naturally, environmentalists and climate control enthusiasts were up in arms when the Trump administration effectively “snuck” that provision in. They have spent two years publishing and promoting this bill and it has now passed with large Democratic and slight bi-partisan support. Again, pretty much an unknown story and bill passed in our House of Representatives last week.
Here’s my opinion: In an ever growing world with populations continuing to rapidly grow, it is nice to see even a small victory like this to protect a national wildlife treasure and untouched land mass. Many people struggle to get behind climate control and often believe enthusiasts are just overreacting to a concern that people will not need to worry about for thousands of years. However, on the flip side, oil prices continue to rise and with Trump seemingly declaring war on Iran in the near future, you can expect oil prices to skyrocket. So, there is an argument to be made that oceans of oil sitting within an American state can no longer be touched, might be a tough pill to swallow when gas prices are all of a sudden an issue for the average American’s pocket book. The environmentalist definitely have the public sentiment in this argument, as most people when faced with it would not want to tear down beautiful wildlife, and it’s an easy sell to the larger public to get emotionally invested in supporting. What I would like to know, and what the Trump Administration, or any administration for that matter, should focus on is attaching numbers and dollars to their reasoning. For example, we estimate that oil drilling in this region will drop gas and oil prices to $1.50 for Americans. At that point, Americans make an educated decision around determining if saving money on gas is more important to them then a protecting wildlife region. Lawmakers will still be able to do what they believe is in the best interest of the country and their constituents, but at least the America population will have a clear understanding of what the Pros and Cons are between the two options. And, they will also know which way their Congressman or Congresswoman voted when it comes time for re-election..
This week it is a win for the Climate and a good win at that. I’d like to see a healthier and data driven debate between climate control and the effects of homegrown oil going further.