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Boxer Unwilling to Compromise on ANWR Drilling

     Even if you offer Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., what she’s been pushing for – taxpayer investments in “green” or renewable energy – she’s not going to budge in her opposition to opening federal lands to oil and natural gas exploration. Talk about willingness to compromise.

     MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough asked Boxer July 21 about a hypothetical compromise with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, in which Hutchison would agree to investment in “renewable energies like wind and solar, and, and have the federal government get involved in a new type of Manhattan Project,” if Boxer would agree to opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling.

     “I don’t think that you throw the Alaskan [Arctic] National Wildlife [Refuge] into oil drilling,” Boxer said. “You don’t need to do it. If you look at what’s in there, it would keep us going for six months when you can do so much more. I mean, with the acreage that is already in the oil companies’ hands. So, I think there are certain American values and you don’t throw them away for something that is so obviously necessary.”’

     Boxer’s assessment that there is only six months’ supply of oil that could be recovered is on the low side. According to Arctic Power, an Alaska-based pro-drilling advocacy group – “with enhanced recovery technology, ANWR oil could provide an additional 30 to 50 years of reliable supply.”

     The California senator’s claim that oil companies aren’t using lands they already have is also misleading. Richard Ranger, a senior policy adviser for the American Petroleum Institute (API) told the Business & Media Institute there’s no oil to be found in some of those areas.

     “When you drill, you have results that are either sufficient oil or gas to allow production or a dry hole or somewhere in between where you think we may have production, but we may need some further work to determine whether this formation, this target is economic to produce,” Ranger said on June 12. “Those steps consume several years from the point of leasing to a point of decision.”

     Despite Boxer’s unwillingness to “meet conservatives halfway,” as Scarborough put it, Alaskans support drilling. Some experts also predict a move to open ANWR would send a message to speculators about future supply that could cause prices to fall.

     “The myths are that the Alaskans, the native Alaskans, do not want this,” Luke Puckett, an Indiana Republican candidate for Congress, said to WNDU, an NBC affiliate in South Bend, Ind., on July 20 after returning from a fact-finding trip to ANWR. “The myth that the caribou are hurting. The myth [is] that we should not drill in a pristine environment.”

     “Puckett says native Alaskans welcome drilling, that caribou populations have multiplied since drilling began in the area, and that the environment is barren,” reporter Marcie Kobriger wrote for

     Boxer’s declaration is also in sharp contrast to a recent national Pew Research Center poll. According to a July 6 report about the poll, 50 percent of those surveyed support drilling in ANWR, up from 42 percent in February of this year.

     According to a July 17 New York Times report, Boxer has been an active opponent of any sort of drilling. The Democrat is one of the most liberal in the U.S. Senate with an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 3.06, just a notch above Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) lowest rating at 2.39.

     In a June “Morning Joe” appearance, Boxer showed her disdain for oil companies.

     “The oil companies pass everything on to us, you know,” Boxer said on June 11. “Tax breaks, no tax breaks – we’ve got to get off this addiction and when we do, we’ll be free of them. That’s how I look at it.”