Drilling in ANWR won't solve our problems

February 19, 2010

Robert H. Nelson's "drill-baby-drill" inspired commentary piece ("ANWR: Obama's missed opportunity on energy," Feb. 17) claiming that the environmental movement views the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as the Garden of Eden would be laughable if it weren't so tragically misguided.

This country does not have a petroleum supply problem -- it has a petroleum demand problem. By increasing supply and surpressing prices, increased offshore and ANWR oil production would only lead to further increases in demand, ensuring that US dollars will continue to flow to oil-rich dictatorships and their terrorist clients.

The federal government should impose an additional tax on gasoline (and other carbon-based energy sources) to establish a permanent floor price of about $6 a gallon in order to drive down demand. The spike in gasoline prices two years ago revealed how adaptable the American public can be when there is a financial incentive. (How are Hummer sales these days?) This tax could be phased in over several years, and the initial impact on businesses and individuals could be mitigated by tax credits that would be phased out over the same time period.

An added bonus of such a policy would be to promote the domestic development of cheaper sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar. Our international competitors (China, India) are actively working to corner the market on these technologies; if we let them succeed, the U.S. will have ceded control of its energy future to foreign powers and will have lost millions of high-paying jobs. If Americans cannot be weaned from their addiction to cheap carbon-based energy, our future prosperity and security will be severely compromised.

B. Krueger, Ellicott City

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