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The drilling question

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Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009

Having bought the unsubstantiated arguments of global-warming alarmists, the Obama administration is all too likely to be swayed by politicized science regarding offshore oil and gas drilling.

Ocean scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration want the Interior Department to ban offshore drilling in the Arctic and much of the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Though informal and nonbinding, NOAA's recommendations are sharply critical of a Bush-era offshore leasing plan that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is considering altering.

So where does science end and politics begin?

NOAA's concerns are drilling's effects on marine life, plus potential damage from and ability to clean up spills. But how deeply are those concerns genuinely rooted in hard, objective science, not science bent to support a political agenda• And who can be trusted to make that distinction?

Climate scientists' willingness to twist data to fit preordained conclusions -- and this administration's willingness to take such "experts" at their word -- should put Interior, and Congress, on guard about NOAA's recommendations.

The proper balance between energy and environment won't be struck with extremists' thumbs weighting the scales against authentic science.

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