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debunk request

Anyone know where I can find a good debunking of this Fox News opinion article, Myths About Drilling In ANWR?

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
zkzkz
Dec. 19th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
What about it do you think needs debunking? Do you think the authors are imagining things like Prudhoe Bay and Kenai?

What I want to hear more about are the migrating caribou. It seems like both sides have made flat out assertions "doing this will affect them like this" "no it won't". What evidence is there that pipelines will or won't affect migrations?
plymouth
Dec. 19th, 2005 07:51 pm (UTC)
They missed my favorite criticism. Oh, wait, maybe that's because it isn't a myth. It's that the amount of oil we'd gain from drilling there is such a small drop in the bucket that I wouldn't make a lick of difference with respect to our oil independance. That alone is enough reason to me to hold off on drilling it until we are absolutely certain we won't affect the wildlife.
alierak
Dec. 19th, 2005 07:58 pm (UTC)
Obviously biased, but you probably want to take a look at savearcticrefuge.org run by Defenders of Wildlife. Example contradiction of the Kenai clean record claim, from the toxictundra.pdf pamphlet they appear to have co-produced with the Audubon society:

According to recent federal studies, oil and gas activities have resulted in more than 350 spills, explosions and fires within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, releasing more than 270,000 gallons of oil, produced water, and other contaminants into refuge habitats. Oil and gas drilling on the wildlife refuge has contaminated more than 100,000 tons of soil with toxic chemicals. [...] In some areas of the refuge, groundwater has been contaminated at levels 10 times the legal limit established by the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, groundwater in one area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is heavily polluted with xylene, a toxin that causes delayed growth and development in unborn animals. Wood frogs found in oil fields on the refuge have missing hind legs and feet, misshapen hind legs, clubfeet and missing eyes.
willtruncheon
Dec. 19th, 2005 09:29 pm (UTC)
Debunking
"ANWR Drilling Would Harm Alaska’s Environment."

This seems like an absolute no-brainer... of COURSE it will damage the environment. When did oil drilling ever improve any aspect of nature? This article claims that the drilling and support facilities required for drilling would be limited to 2,000 of the refuge's 1.9 million acres. This is dishonest accounting. Omitted from this figure are all the new roads that would link the widely scattered facilites. In counting the areas affected by pipelines resting on posts, they counted only the ground on which the pipe rests, not the ground under the pipelines! (Los Angeles Times, 4/8/02)

"Oil Wells Would Despoil One Of The Few Remaining Pristine Places."

See above. The administration's "estimates" of lands affected by the drilling is incorrect, as is the implication that "flat and featureless" coastal plains are useless ecologically and unimportant to humans.

"Drilling Is Incompatible With The Purpose Of National Wildlife Refuges."
Bush's industry-friendly energy bill released in May 2001, in addition to paying $33 billion in taxpayer subsidies and tax cuts to the oil, coal, and nuclear power industries, building 1,300 new coal-fired power plants, and rolling back emissions standards on everything that smokes, spits or oozes, opened up publicly owned land and wilderness preserves for oil and gas exploitation. Prior to the 2001 bill, incidents of drilling for oil in publicly owned land and wildlife refuges was extremely rare.

"Oil Development Harms Local Wildlife."

I don't know how this guy is trying to make the argument that oil development doesn't harm wildlife. Evidence that it does is so robust, so well-documented, so frequently photographed, that this assertion of his falls into the "lie" category. In 2002, the USGS (United States Geological Survey, a branch of the Interior Department), released a 78-page report that concluded after 12 years of study that drilling in ANWR poses a serious threat to wildlife. Gale Norton, then-secretary of the interior, ordered the scientists to re-evaluate their conclusions and report back in ten days, just in time for the Senate debate on Bush's energy bill. The new, "corrected" version of the report was 2 pages (!) long and concluded that drilling would have little or no negative impact on wildlife. Norton got the headlines she needed, no doubt you've seen them... "Not One Caribou Harmed", etc. These conclusions are patently false.

"The Caribou Herds Will be Devastated."
"...the caribou herd that migrates through Prudhoe Bay has increased from 3,000 to 23,000 since drilling commenced there in 1977" writes the author, implying that the drilling process actually helps to improve the caribou population. Again, this is a distortion of facts used to the author's gain. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/28/MNGR4EDJGT1.DTL

"But many wildlife biologists say the argument has been oversimplified. Although the same animals, the two herds are very different. The Porcupine herd migrates over a much larger range, an arduous journey that takes its toll on the herd. Scientists also believe the Central Artic herd, a much smaller herd, has access to several acceptable calving grounds. The Porcupine herd has fewer alternatives and the herd has suffered declines in years when deep snow cover made it difficult to reach its preferred calving grounds on Alaska's coastal plain.

Some biologists suggest a major reason why the Central Arctic herd has flourished is because as much as three-quarters of the area where it calves has virtually no oil activity."

"Alaskans Oppose ANWR Drilling."
As far as I can tell, though I've done no polling of my own to substantiate it, the author is correct here. The majority of Alaskans, including the Inupiat, tend to support the drilling. Of course, I've never heard this used as an argument to oppose drilling in ANWR, so it's a bit of a straw man scenario.

This guy is also cooking his books about the amount of oil likely to be available in ANWR. Check out http://www.sibelle.info/oped15.htm for a detailed analysis of what we're likely to get out of it, and how important it is or isn't.

abce
Dec. 20th, 2005 09:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Debunking
My reply to your message is unparented, so look at the original submission, and go down two..
melted_snowball
Dec. 20th, 2005 09:15 am (UTC)
Isn't "Fox News opinion article" redundant?
abce
Dec. 20th, 2005 09:58 pm (UTC)
Heritage Foundation
Actually, it is a Heritage Foundation piece, picked up by Fox News, among others. And you might want to see this study if you really think that among the mainstream media, it is Fox that you have to worry about sneaking "opinion" into every article.
willtruncheon
Dec. 21st, 2005 02:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Heritage Foundation
Well, responding to this in the comprehensive manner that your post deserves would take more time and energy than I'm willing to invest right now (I've only had one cup of coffee). I will say for now that if you consider any claims made by the Heritage Foundation to be anything other than slanted as hard to the right as possible, you haven't been paying attention. The liberal media bias myth, we'll just have to tackle another time.
abce
Dec. 21st, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Heritage Foundation
Ah, I love "the proof is so obvious as to be left to the student," but I guess from the far left, anything moderate smacks of being far to the right.
willtruncheon
Dec. 22nd, 2005 01:15 am (UTC)
Re: Heritage Foundation
I'm sorry, are you making the argument that the Heritage Foundation is in any way moderate? Have you seen their donor list? Their personnel list? The policies they have endorsed for the last 30 or so years? Literally saturated with neo-cons, Moonies, John Birchers, and petrochemical beneficiaries, it would be a challenge to find a more influential and decidedly right-wing think tank anywhere. If you agree with some of their editorials or policy recommendations, that's fine, ultimately many of them are simply matters of opinion. The belief that the organization is somehow "centrist" or objective, however, will be quickly dispelled by a review of the Foundation's practices and history. If you'd like to have a look, check out http://www.sourcewatch.org/wiki.phtml?title=Heritage_Foundation#Other_Related_SourceWatch_Resources
It's a very enlightening read.
abce
Dec. 22nd, 2005 04:36 am (UTC)
Re: Heritage Foundation
You originally asserted that all claims by the Heritage Foundation are slanted as hard to the right as possible. As a moderate, I read things from both the right and the left, and yes, I challenge that assertion.

Of course, anyone can claim to be moderate when they aren't (Sourcewatch is a great example of that; just look at the emotional content of the words that they use in that link, then go read their entry about themselves, and compare that with the list of activities of their founder...)
abce
Dec. 20th, 2005 09:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Debunking
This guy is also cooking his books about the amount of oil likely to be available in ANWR.

The USGS survey, done in 1998, quoted at your URL, postulated a mean of 7 billion barrels (range of 3 to 10.4 billion) of commercially recoverable oil - oil that has a 12% margin after all costs are amortized in - at $30/barrel. You may note that oil is fluctuating in the $50-$60/barrel range right about now, which makes far more oil commercially recoverable (not including newer technologies improving commercial viability of oil recovery). In fact, it drives it closer to the technically recoverable number which is about a billion barrels higher.

So a round "10 billion barrels" is just about right.

And frankly, I think Alan Alda had it right - would you rather be drilling oil next to your child's playground, or in a place so remote, only a thousand of the wealthiest people in the world ever get to visit?



So, let's put 7 billion barrels of crude into perspective. Every day, we import 5 million barrels of crude from OPEC countries (10 million from everyone, including Canada, our largest partner, at a million a day). If we could just take 10 percent of the OPEC imports off the table, it would help our economic position. And the ANWR would let us do that for 40 years. (Better yet, let's just stop buying from Canada, and see how long their socialist economy lasts without the cheap distribution to us).

Your choice. Our country uses too much energy. And we've built an entire logistics grid on petroleum. Pick the ways in which you'd like to see is improve the supply of energy, and the ways in which we can decrease the demand for energy, and advocate for something. Only being against things is ... well ... let's not go there.

Caveat: I drive a hybrid (about 6000 miles per year). I use a multi-zone HVAC system with 28 different settings across the week. I support the war in Iraq, and that has absolutely nothing to do with oil.

willtruncheon
Dec. 21st, 2005 03:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Debunking
The report specifically states that 10+ billion barrels is an "optimistic" outlook on how much oil could be recovered. Starting in 2010 at the earliest. Hope is not a strategy.

"Only being against things is ... well ... let's not go there."

I don't think anyone writing here, myself included, is in any way "only against things". I was addressing a request for debunking of a Heritage Foundation op-ed piece, not editorializing on any beliefs I may hold personally, or holding forth on a view I wish others to espouse. I do appreciate your advice, though.


abce
Dec. 22nd, 2005 04:39 am (UTC)
Re: Debunking
"cooking his books" and "optimistic" are two vastly different claims. If you'd originally meant to say, "This guy is being a bit too optimistic about our chances of pulling 10 billion barrels out of the ANWR", you failed atrociously. Instead, you implied, very strongly, that the number 10 billion had no basis in fact, which it does, and that the author was strictly acting to deceive.

That, combined with your use of the "lie" meme later in your initial commentary, made your post one which demonsrated an interesting bias to me.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )