The Wasatch Behind: the green people and the great white north
"It was so cold this morning I had to kick start my dog," Uncle Spud said with a grin.
"I know what you mean," I replied. "If not for my burning desire to buy a new Hummer, Jeannie and I would have frozen clear to death last night. Too bad gas prices are so high. I couldn't afford to drive a Hummer if someone gave me one."
"Yea, and it's bound to get worse," Uncle Spud said. "Did you hear that congress voted down a proposal to drill for oil in ANWR?"
"What's ANWR?" I asked.
Uncle Spud smiled.
"ANWR is a frozen wasteland on the north shore of Alaska. Only caribou and polar bears live there. They call it ANWR or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was established 45 years ago when the green people were demanding that we make everything west of the Mississippi a wilderness area. Congress gave them ANWR instead."
"I thought green people came from Mars," I said.
"Sometimes their reasoning would make you think that," he chuckled. "Actually, most come from well to do areas along the west and east coasts. They do maintain a few frontier outposts, like the avenues in Salt Lake City. Wilderness advocates just can't resist voting for a guy named Rocky."
"Good point," I smiled. "So what's the big deal about ANWR?"
"There's an ocean of oil there," Uncle Spud proclaimed, "and we need the oil."
"Why don't we go get it?" I asked innocently.
"The green people won't let us drill there," he said.
"You've got to be joking," I said. "Don't green people pay high gas prices too?"
"They do," he said, "but all things are relative. High gas prices don't bother the Hollywood green people as much as they hurt the common folk here on the Wasatch Behind."
"Aren't green people the ones who want me to give up my SUV because I'm using more than my share of energy by getting 15 miles per gallon?" I asked.
"That's them," he said.
"I'll bet some of those people use more energy heating their swimming pools and lighting their tennis courts for a week than I use in my home, cars, and two-acre farm in three or four years," I said.
"That's right," Uncle Spud said, "but they've got the microphone and you don't."
"What about national security?" I asked. "We depend way too much on foreign oil. Those Arabs could cut us off in a heartbeat and ruin our economy and our lives. Gas could go to 5 or 7 dollars per gallon."
"That doesn't seem to matter to most green people," Uncle Spud said. "Those Hollywood types have already got theirs. It's the little people who work for a living who would loose jobs and the ability to travel, not them."
"Without adequate sources of oil at home, we have no choice but to protect our supply of foreign oil," I lamented. "If there's a big war in the Middle East, we have no choice but to participate. Wouldn't developing our own oil supplies give us more and better options for dealing with global conflicts?"
"Sure would," Uncle Spud said.
"So what's the problem then?"
"The green people want the frozen north left as wilderness."
"That's silly," I said. "The only reason it's wilderness is because it's so remote and cold that no one can stand to live there. Nobody wants to go there even to visit. Maybe the good lord knew what he was doing when he put the oil there. It's a perfect place to get oil without screwing up our backyards."
"True," Uncle Spud said, "but what about the caribou?"
"We're only asking to drill on about 8 percent of the place," I said. "An area the size of West Virginia has already been placed off limits forever. We've agreed not to go into that area. The caribou can still roam among the drill rigs too. Drill rigs don't kill caribou. Polar Bears do that."
"What about scars on the land?" he asked.
"The place is covered by snow most of the year," I said, "and nobody goes to see it in the summer anyway. Up there, summer only lasts a couple of weeks and who cares. All the green people are at Lake Powell."
"Some people simply take comfort in knowing that wilderness is out there somewhere, and it's protected," Uncle Spud said.
"That's great," I growled. "But I have grandchildren out there somewhere too, and I want to feel that they are protected. Until we develop alternate sources of power, I'm not ready to commit my grandchildren to an oil war in the Middle East just to save an empty spot in the snow somewhere near the Arctic Circle."
"I guess we all have our priorities," Uncle Spud said.