The Irony of Bush's Assault on ANWR

by Jim Hightower

George W. has shown again and again that he won't ever let reality get in the way of ideology – whether the issue is his Iraq attack, global warming, privatization of Social Security, tax cuts for the rich ... whatever.

Now the Bushites are even pushing ideology over geology. Bush Cheney & Company are determined to win congressional approval of their plan to allow oil companies to drill and pump in the pristine reaches of ANWR – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. George has even played the security card, declaring that "our national security makes it urgent" to open this unspoiled wilderness to the oil giants.

But, in a gusher of political irony, guess what? The oil giants have little interest in drilling there! Even a Bush advisor on this issue confided that "No oil company really cares about ANWR," adding that "If the government gave them the [drilling] leases for free they wouldn't take them." Indeed, Chevron Texaco, BP, and ConocoPhillips have so little interest in ANWR that they have withdrawn from Arctic Power, the chief lobbying front behind Bush's push to open the refuge.

Why the corporate disinterest? Because, unlike George, companies have to base their decisions at least partially on reality, and the geological reality is that ANWR doesn't hold enough oil to make private investment there worthwhile. Only one actual test of the refuge's oil potential has been done – a secret test by Chevron Texaco and BP, two of the giants that have now backed away from Bush's ANWR scheme. If it had real production potential, these profit-seekers would be lobbying hard to get in there.

What's really behind the Bushites' insistence on drilling in a wildlife refuge is nothing but their reactionary, knee-jerk laissez-faire ideology. They hate the idea that the public can protect any piece of nature from corporate intrusion – even if the corporations don't choose to intrude. ANWR is a case of their ideological loopiness.


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