- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

President Bush has long been a supporter of energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for a simple reason: national security.
After all, Americans depend on fossil fuels for much of their material prosperity, even though much of that fossil fuel comes from unfriendly Islamic states in the Middle East. Almost 60 percent of America's oil is shipped from overseas Americans annually pay Saddam Hussein nearly $4 billion for the 700,000 barrels of oil that he provides them. Saddam almost certainly uses those profits in ways that undermine America's security whether in investments in weapons of mass destruction or the financial support of terrorists.
Even while Americans can count on the fact that their dollars will fund Saddam's desperate plots, they cannot bank on a continuous oil supply from "moderate" Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia especially in light of Osama bin Laden's apparent intent to undermine those regimes. Any terrorist who can threaten the least energy supplying-state in the Persian Gulf also holds a knife to America's energy jugular.
Opening ANWR to oil exploration would dull that threat, since diversifying oil supplies is tantamount to securing oil supplies. According to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, ANWR contains a "huge amount" of oil conservatively estimated at 10.4 billion barrels. Yet, even if the refuge contained far less oil, opening it to drilling would still make sense, since it's about the security, stupid.
Every barrel of oil produced domestically is another dollar that won't be spent by Saddam, another drop of American blood that won't be shed to protect our precarious overseas supply messages that, astonishingly, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and his liberal cohorts still don't seem to get. Fearing Democratic passage of the drilling measure, Mr. Daschle autocratically pulled the bill from committee consideration and seems to have no intention to bring it to the Senate floor. Sen. Joseph Lieberman recently argued that ANWR drilling would "severely threaten a national environmental treasure, which is the last thing the American people would expect us to do at this moment of crisis." His distinguished colleague, Sen. John Kerry, whined to Environment and Energy Daily, "I find it irresponsible and even unpatriotic to press an issue that will not make a difference during our war on terrorism."
But ANWR drilling isn't really about the war on terrorism: It's about security. Long after Saddam and bin Laden, Americans will be depending on oil. The question is whether the children and grandchildren of the veterans of the Gulf War and the victims of the USS Cole will also be sent in harm's way for the sake of foreign oil.
Mr. Daschle should allow an honest floor debate on drilling at ANWR, and the Senate should speedily approve the measure. After all, increasing America's domestic oil supply should not be a question of elitist ideology but rather a measure for the common defense.

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