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[GreenYes] Oil Exploration and Environmental Externalities
    Today's Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on the
environmental externalities from international oil exploration, "Stymied in
Alaska, Oil Producers flock to a Newer Frontier," that bust out somewhere
else in the world whenever we save someplace close to our homes.

    It describes the adaptation of Exxon Mobil and Shell, having been
rebuffed in its efforts supported by Pres. Bush to explore for oil off the
Arctic National Refuge in Alaska by Congress, from which they shifted their
efforts to Russia's oil rich Sakhalin Island across the North Pacific from

    As one would expect, even though repeated inspections that have been
done continue to disclose major maintenance and recovery problems in Alaskan
oil drilling under U.S. standards, the standards imposed on the other side
of the straits in Sakhalin Island are even more drastically diminished.

    What is so powerfully disturbing about this in-depth article is that it
documents the precise ways that Exxon Mobil imposes its will down this path
on a cash starved, now near third world country, all the while publicly
pretending that full standards are being adhered to("[Exxon Mobil] calls
Russia's regulations 'among the most rigorous and comprehesnive in the

    As an example, Exxon Mobil convinced Moscow, and in the process bypassed
the local environmental officials sometimes more directly concerned with the
long term consequences, to permit them to dump drilling wastes in local seas
with their consultant's report that purported to show that local fisheries
wouldn't be adversely effected (this is not permitted in Alaska).  That
study excluded without explanation impacts on salmon stocks as well as on
fisheries in the local seas not directly over the dump locations.  No
independent analysis was done.

    Without this waiver based upon a one-side unreviewed consultant's
report, the drilling wastes would have to be reinjected in the drill holes
which is an extremely expensive (read externality) proposition. The year
after the dumping began herring by the thousands washed up dead on local
beaches, but the oil companies attributed that to overfishing and a
mysterious disease.

    It is so sad to be given a front row seat to witness, and thereby be
culpable every time we go to a gas station to refill our cars with cheap
gas, the terrible depredations made on our behalf.

    The unions have organized global efforts to reduce third world sweat
shops' products from being marketed in the U.S.  Don't environmentalists
have a similar obligation to fight importation of cheap oil drilled on the
backs of the oceans in the third world.  How long are we going to let
ourselve sit silently by so that we can utilize the money we save buying
subsidized gas to purchase a full wall television set or some other
essential to our very existence.

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011

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