Arctic Refuge oil could be sent overseas

A portentous U.S. commitment, sold with slogans about freedom and national security, that turns out to be all about the oil industry. No, not that one. We’re talking about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling proponents cite the fact that the U.S. imports most of the oil it uses, thus leaving it dependent on some rather grumpy countries. Drilling in the refuge, they say, would ramp up domestic oil supply, Make America Safe, and Set America Free. Except, ahem, note the fine print: Turns out the oil sucked out from beneath the caribou may be exported out of the country. The 51-49 Senate vote that authorized the drilling carried no provision banning export, though the House energy bill might. In terms of the overall U.S. economy, particularly the oil industry, it doesn’t much matter, as oil is a fungible commodity. But in terms of the much-ballyhooed national-security benefits, says Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), “the best solution is to get off of dependence on fossil fuels in general.”