Saturday, June 14, 2008

Swapping ANWR for climate change legislation

Kevin Drum has the good idea of giving up a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling in return for Republican support for real climate change legislation.

I've indicated my partial heresy over ANWR in the past - a friend of mine and occasional commenter here has worked the Alaskan North Slope for years and hasn't seen much environmental damage, and ANWR could be even better protected. Granted, the North Slope isn't a major caribou calving ground like ANWR is, and various measures have been used to underestimate the environmental impact from drilling. Still the likelihood of substantial damage from drilling is small, while the benefit to the Arctic and ANWR from action on climate change is huge.

So would the Republicans bite? Three would, at least - two Alaskan senators and one Alaskan representative. I don't know if any others would, but even two senators is a great catch given the need to get a 60-vote supermajority against the inevitable filibuster. Or if we already have 60 votes, the legislation could be made stronger over the objections of two Democratic senators who would otherwise be indispensable.

A final note regarding climate legislation - here's Ron Brownstein looking very pessimistically at the recently failed legislation, contrary to my Pollyannish view. Ten of the 54 Senate "supporters" wanted major changes that would weaken the bill that was already too weak. We'll need a real political earthquake to change things around.

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