Patrick Richardson

Managing Editor

I was reading on Fox News just yesterday morning as I was preparing to write this column that EPA had just denied drilling permits for Shell Oil in the Arctic Ocean.

ďShell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days,Ē according to Fox News.

The excuse? Well Shell apparently didnít include emissions from the ice breaking ships which would be needed as part of the drilling effort. EPA concluded emissions from the drilling operation would affect near by communities.

Well, community, near by.

Well, sort of near by, like 70 miles away near by.

The town, well really village, theyíre worried about is Kaktovik, Alaska, and itís got a population of 245, mostly native Alaskans and is one of, if not the, most remote place in the United States.

How much oil are we talking about?

Well, according to Fox News:

ďAt stake is an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. Thatís how much the U. S. Geological Survey believes is in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. For perspective, that represents two and a half times more oil than has flowed down the Trans Alaska pipeline throughout its 30-year history. That pipeline is getting dangerously low on oil. At 660,000 barrels a day, itís carrying only one-third its capacity.Ē

Silly, no?

The groups involved in the law suit to stop this were Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Alaska Wilderness League.

I havenít had time to do the digging, but I bet if you went looking youíd find those groups have ties to the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, two organizations notorious for stopping development of any kind who are also notorious for using a loop hole in the law which allows them to have the federal government pay their legal fees for suing the government.

All of that is largely beside the point, gas is over $4 a gallon in much of the nation, and with the turmoil in the Middle East thereís little prospect oil prices will drop anytime soon.

Leaving aside as well the nearly $4 billion and five years Shell wasted on this project, thereís several hundred jobs working on and supporting the rigs Alaska will never see as well.

The economic impact of high fuel prices is literally incalculable as well. As fuel prices rise, it affects every part of peopleís lives.

The last time gas prices were this high it cost me my business. I was unable to sustain $1,000 a month fuel bills and turn a profit in my mobile tool business. I had to shut down and look for a job elsewhere ó and nearly three years later Iím still dealing with the fall out.

Iím far from the only person who can tell that story. High fuel prices drive up the price of nearly everything else, food not least.

Anyone else remember when a double Quarter Pounder with cheese, fries and a drink was about five bucks? Itís now around $7. A gallon of milk costs more than a gallon of gas. As food and energy prices rise people have to start thinking about cutting back in other areas.

You have to eat, and you have to be able to drive to work. So that vacation to Branson, or Disney World, or where ever is now put on hold as the money put back for the trip has to go to paying for food or gas or to cover the $400 electric bill.

The Luddites in the environmental movement donít seem to care what their zero development ideas do to the rest of us, or that theyíre trying to sue and regulate us into the Third World ó or the Dark Ages.

What they donít realize is their ideas donít just cost jobs, they cost lives. People in the Third World have far lower life expectancies than we do here. They suffer from far more health problems as well. They seem to believe that before the advent of modern technology the world was a better place where we all lived in harmony with nature.

More fools they, life in the Dark Ages was nasty, brutish and short and often still is in the Third World. People were lucky to have two sets of clothing and one pair of shoes. They bathed once or twice a year, if that, and for the most part the sewers were the open gutters.

No one in their right mind wants to return to that. No one wants to live in filth. No one wants industry to pollute. Everyone understands we need to be careful with development and make sure we leave as little impact as possible ó†we also understand that to leave zero impact is impossible.

There is no way to return the Earth to a state before humans had an impact on the environment around them ó†even if we were to eliminate humans as many of these people seem to think we should.

We must develop our resources, while seeking to minimize impact but realizing just being alive means we will have some impact. With millions out of work we cannot continue to prevent projects which will provide jobs and lower our energy costs.

All IMHO, of course.

(Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Columbus Advocate and the Baxter Springs News. He can be emailed at