A Note to the ‘Gullible’

The good news: we made the Anchorage Times — in a lead editorial, no less! The bad news: the editors called us — you — “gullible.”

That’s fine. It takes more than name calling to intimidate us. But the straw-man arguments the paper manufactured — against us, and in favor of drilling the Arctic Refuge — deserve a response. And the facts — as collected in white papers on energy independence and the environmental importance of the Refuge — are on our side.

Our point-by-point critique of the editorial:

“Proposed exploration and development would take place only on a relatively tiny piece of land on the coastal plain of [the Arctic Refuge].”

No, not true — not unless you believe in creative math. Pro-drilling forces promise to tamper, if given permission, with only 2,000 acres of the Refuge — ‘only’ the same amount of land as 1,500 football fields or 20 Malls of America.

More to the point, the 2,000 acres cited by drilling proponents include only areas where oil equipment touches the ground: the footing of oil rigs, for instance, or support columns for oil pipelines. With pockets of oil scattered throughout the Refuge, you can bet that — if oil companies get their way — we’ll witness the construction of miles upon miles of pipelines, impacting areas far beyond where rivets happen to touch dirt.

“America’s biggest hope for new domestic oil production lies under this sliver of land.”

Some hope! A chart produced this year displays the rude facts succinctly [see here for a full-sized version (*.pdf)]:

chart by office of Sen. Richard Lugar; credit - U.S. Senate

The nation’s total oil needs: the blue slope across the chart. The oil potentially available under the Arctic Refuge? That’s the almost-invisible red sliver at the bottom. That sums the matter up.

“[T]he future of the entire [R]efuge is in no way threatened. Most of it, in fact, already is protected.”

Clever game: talk about the Refuge itself, but ignore the larger — and largely spoiled — ecosystem it preserves a sliver of. The Congress, over the years, has opened 95 percent of Alaska’s Arctic north to oil drilling! The five percent that remains protected is the Refuge.

Arctic development map; credit - office of Sen. Richard Lugar

[See the white paper on the Arctic environment (*.pdf) for a larger version.]

“This phony fight to ‘save’ [the Arctic Refuge] is a blatant fund-raising gimmick for the National Wildlife Federation to pluck money from unsuspecting but good-hearted people across the land who know nothing of the Arctic.”

Look, nothing would please us more than not having to spend another cent fighting to protect the Arctic Refuge. But as long as they keep trying to drill there, we’ll keep fighting. It’s funny how they have no problem with companies like ExxonMobil spending tens of millions of dollars in massive PR campaigns to wash over their appalling environmental records, but they attack us for accepting ten or twenty dollars from ordinary Americans who want to make a difference for their children’s future.

With America’s oil companies earning record profits — and proponents of drilling the Refuge pushing harder than ever to defeat us — the Anchorage Times’ focus on small contributions given by people like us, rather than the millions of dollars spent in Washington by companies such as Exxon, amounts to a surreal distortion of the truth.

As for the “unsuspecting” people “who know nothing of the Arctic” — well, they’re talking about you. They clearly think you’ve been hoodwinked into your support for protecting America’s largest, most pristine wilderness (which, according to them, you also know nothing about). What do you think about that? Tell us below.

It’s like what Gandhi once said: “[f]irst they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you … then you win.” If the squawking from Anchorage tells us anything, we’ve managed — after a half-month of work! — to knock three down, with one to go.

But we’re only starting — and this editorial makes clear that we have our work cut out for us. Can we afford to let big-money drilling supporters and their mouthpieces in the press keep twisting the truth about what we believe? It’s time we used our power — and the forum you’ve built at the Arctic Promise project — to get the truth the American people ourselves.

Make that happen right now:

The fact that pro-drilling forces attacked us — attacked you — shows that we’re doing something right. So let’s keep at it — and together, we’ll show the lobbyists and oil companies what we “gullible” people can do.