Though he is often derided by Democrats for his party-confusion and support of former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) has taken a bold step to challenge Republicans and other supporters of arctic oil and gas exploration and drilling.
A bill introduced yesterday by Lieberman proposes to designate 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as Wilderness for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Under the designation, human activities in the ANWR would be restricted to non-motorized recreation, scientific research and other non-invasive activities, according to a press statement from Lieberman’s office.
That’s right: No gas, and no oil.
This proposed legislation follows a “critical habitat” designation by the Department of the Interior last November that protects polar bear habitat off the northern coast of Alaska. While some politicians undoubtedly remain steadfast in their support for domestic offshore oil drilling, it is clear that — to paraphrase comments made by President Obama in his State of the Union address — fossil-fueled energy represents a technology of the past.
Lieberman’s bill, of course, is still in its early stages, and will likely face harsh opposition from oil-bathing right-wingers. Lieberman, a fourth-term senator and longtime supporter of the ANWR, has announced he will retire next year. The incumbent hasn’t always been the most well-liked politician, but he can certainly leave his post in the U.S. government having contributed to a worthy cause.