"Sen. John McCain said this week he would not drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the same reason he 'would not drill in the Grand Canyon . . . I believe this area should be kept pristine.'
Pristine means unspoiled, virginal, in an original state.
One wonders how pristine the Grand Canyon can be if it has roughly 5 million visitors every year, rafting, hiking, picnicking, and riding mules up one side and down the other. Campfires, RVs, and motels that do not conjure the word “virginal” ring around large swaths of it.
This isn’t to say that the Grand Canyon isn’t a beautiful place; it inspires awe among those who visit it. ANWR (pronounced 'AN-wahr') inspires awe almost entirely in those who haven’t been there. It is an environmental Brigadoon or Shangri-La, a fabled land almost no one will ever see. That is its appeal. People like the idea that there are still Edens “out there” even if they will never, ever see them.
Indeed, if Americans could visit the north coast of Alaska, as I have, as easily as they can visit the Grand Canyon, the oil would be flowing by now.
ANWR is roughly the size of South Carolina, and it is spectacular. However, the area where, according to Department of Interior estimates, some 5.7 billion to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil reside is much smaller and not necessarily as awe-inspiring. It would amount to the size of Dulles airport.
Question for McCain: Has South Carolina been ruined because it has an airport?"
-- Jonah Goldberg, commenting on the stupidly fanatical environmentalism that's strangling our nation, in the National Review