The dumbest rationale yet for drilling in ANWR

February 18, 2010

I thought I had heard all of the reasons for oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) until I read Robert H. Nelson's commentary "A missed opportunity on energy" (Feb. 17). After initially making an economic argument, then a quasi-religious argument, Mr. Nelson advanced his rationale for disqualifying ANWR as a protected natural resource. ANWR is not worthy of preservation because A) it has changed geologically and biologically from its original character, and B) Native Americans hunted and otherwise trespassed on the site. I hope your readers will view this argument as ludicrous as I do.

Were such a philosophy to prevail, what if Mr. Nelson finds oil under Yellowstone National Park, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, or others? The potential answer to this question is very disquieting. Just like ANWR, none of these areas are the same as they were thousands or millions of years ago, and Native Americans certainly utilized them.

Mr. Nelson is not the first to attempt to demonize people who value the natural world, and he certainly won't be the last. Environmentalists are not unaware of the energy crisis; they are deeply involved in the development of alternative energy sources. And, contrary to Mr. Nelson's argument, environmentalists are not enviro-religious wing nuts. They (we) simply believe it important to protect and pass on natural areas to generations that will follow. Those generations will not thank us if we leave them Robert Nelson's alternative.

David Mayhew, Cockeysville

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