Ed Driscoll

AMERICA'S VAST PESTILENTIAL WASTELAND

Last year, Jonah Goldberg wrote an article for National Review On Dead Tree (as he likes to call it), on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (with the cover of that issue of NRODT bearing that headline, as best as I can remember it.) He actually flew out and visited the ANWR, and quickly came to the conclusion that it is not the home of Bambi (as in the deer, not a rampantly overflowing denizen of Maxim magazine, as Jonah would probably be quick to inform), but rather, dozens of varieties of vicious mosquitos, and endless miles of swamp:

I suspect that the majority of Americans who oppose oil exploration in ANWR would agree with me if they saw it firsthand. Indeed, they would probably agree that if America had to be struck by an asteroid, this would be the ideal impact point. Of course, I am not talking about ANWR’s beautiful mountain vistas, the ones cooed over by cable-news hostesses. Not only is that stuff legally protected from oil exploration, it is far, far away from anywhere the oil companies want to drill-i.e., the thousands of football fields’ worth of bog and marsh.

Using a similar strategy, last week, Interior Secretary Gale Norton sent a letter to major news outlets around the country describing the president’s initiative to allow “environmentally sensitive energy production” in the far north slope of ANWR, the Secretary’s letter included a videotape of the region.

When Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called Friday afternoon inquiring about how much the Interior Department had spent on the video, Mark Pfeifle, a spokesman for the Interior Department ran the numbers:

“ANWR videos: $95.81. Postage to send ANWR videos to network news anchors: $43.55. Informing Americans about what the real Alaska North Slope looks like in the dead of winter: Priceless.”

Pfeifle says providing the video to major television outlets was necessary, because most had been using video provided by opponents of energy exploration in ANWR.

“Using footage from the anti-energy independence crowd is about reliable as having your fortune told by Miss Cleo on the Psychic Readers Network,” he added.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg’s own take on the videotape, Markey, and Pfeifle’s response to him is now online.