Now that Republican Lisa Murkowski has held on to her Senate seat, expect Alaska to become ground zero in the battle to ratchet up oil and gas drilling in the U.S.
Moving in for the drill: No question that Murkowski was the lesser of two weasels in her race with Tea Party Republican Joe Miller. But she’s long been a big booster of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling — an initiative that will have a lot more support in the House come January.
Don’t think for a minute that the fact that Murkowski fell out of favor with Republican leaders when she orchestrated a write-in campaign against Miller has dulled her drive to drill. Consider this: Almost 90 percent of her campaign contributions came from out of state and most were from energy companies.
It’s not surprising, then, that the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune is calling on Barack Obama to stage a pre-emptive strike to protect the huge wildlife refuge by declaring it a National Monument. He describes what we can expect if drillers are given a green light:
… it (the Refuge) would be destroyed before ExxonMobil and the other oil companies got a single drop. Bulldozers and large rigs would roam over the delicate tundra, drilling exploratory and production wells throughout the Refuge. Several dozen oil fields would need to be constructed, plus numerous airstrips, gravel mines, water-reservoir excavations, water withdrawal sites, seawater treatment plants, utility lines, loading docks, dormitories, and garbage dumps.
Shell unleashed: Meanwhile, Alaska’s Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is pressuring the White House to say when it will allow oil companies to start drilling off the state’s north coast. Shell wants to begin drilling exploratory wells there next summer. [The Hill]
And in other green news:
Another country heard from: Cap-and-trade is dead in the U.S. for the foreseeable future, but it’s now under serious consideration in China as a way to control its fast-rising carbon emissions. [Bloomberg]
Up to speed: But wait, there’s more from China. Japanese and European companies used to dominate the high-speed train market. No more. Chinese companies are now selling trains that are the fastest in the world. [Wall Street Journal]
Getting juiced: With more than a little fanfare, the first of 500 charging stations for electric vehicles was unveiled in Washington, D.C. More than 4,600 stations will open around the country over the next two years. [Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy]
Everything old is new again: Coal plants from the ‘40s and ‘50s are shutting down, but in the Midwest they’re being replaced by new coal plants. That’s progress? [The New York Times]
Feel the sand ooze between your toes: BP is still at it cleaning Gulf beaches, but now it’s digging deeper to get at that “tar mats” buried far beneath the sand. [AP]
Why go on?: Okay, here’s something to ponder: In a truly water-stressed world, there would be no beer. [Greenbang]