Get slick, oil companies

By now, just about everybody has heard of ANWR, the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and the ongoing battle for its petro-treasures. On the one hand, you’ve got this large, pristine wilderness area, a vitally important habitat for large numbers of plants, animals and birds. On the other, you’ve got reliable geological reports that say the refuge sits atop a significant pocket of oil, a pocket that will push us at least a few miles farther on down the Highway to Hell.

Arguments about what to do have raged for years. One of the big ones put forth by the oil industry insists the technology involving drilling and removal is now sophisticated enough to nearly eliminate enviro-damage at the site. This stance was summed up in a recent newspaper column that said of environmentalists, “Certainly they know as well as anybody that technological advancements over the past 20 years have made it possible to extract oil from almost anywhere, anytime of the year and at greater depths without upsetting existing environments. Why do these people deny modern science in oil-related environmental matters blah blah blah rant rant rant.”

Well, it might have something to do with the fact that those of us who lean green just can’t shake the nagging notion that a heckuva lot of oil-industry leaders speak with tongues made up of a fascinating combination of compost and bilge water.

Sorry, drilling fans, but you got some serious credibility problems, and they start right at the top. The very tippy-top. As in the two most well-known oil men in the country who just recently sold to America, via a relentless campaign of horseshit, bullshit and dogshit, a very expensive, very hostile, very large swamp on the other side of the world. So, don’t trot Dub and Darth on out to hustle us on the marvels of these new “super clean” extraction technologies; after that last sales job, Bushco’s street cred currently resides at the very bottom of El Dumpster Grande.

The thing is, I want to believe that oil can now be extracted ultra-cleanly, with no musses and no fusses. I want to believe that an American oil consortium could yank billions of barrels out of ANWR and not disturb even one ancient walrus mating dance in the process. But, then again, I also wanted to believe that Saddam was about three days away from getting that nuclear anthrax nerve gas doomsday machine together, too.

What would be most welcome at this point would be for the oil giants to just go ahead and build a facility that can do all of this wonderful, clean extraction. Just shut up with the talk, and start walkin’ the walk. If you can really do it, show us. Prove it once and for all. Build a plant so that even the most super-cynical, Exxon-hatin’ enviro would have to say, “Gee. Nicely done.”

And, if the oil industry has already built this sparkling new facility somewhere, where are the triumphant, full-page ads in Newsweek and Time?