Syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh lampooned criticism of the Bush administration's plans to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that the ANWR region is "nothing but snow and rock" and asserting that the wildlife living there "wishes it didn't, but it's too stupid to figure out how to move anywhere."
Limbaugh also claimed that the caribou population in Alaska has "quadrupled" as a result of the installation of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, suggesting that concerns that drilling will negatively affect caribou are unfounded. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2002 that a U.S. Geological Survey report warned that "oil development would 'most likely' restrict the area available for caribou calving, leading to impaired reproduction and calf survival for the 123,000 caribou" in the coastal regions of ANWR. Similarly, the Anchorage Daily News reported on March 6 that the area where drilling would occur is a plain that "slims to a relatively narrow stretch in the so-called '1002 Area,' leading some biologists to worry that oil development would have a much greater impact there on caribou and other wildlife." Media Matters for America has noted other conservative media figures, including Fox News co-host Sean Hannity and Fox News reporter William La Jeunesse, making the same misleading claim about caribou in ANWR.
From the March 16 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is being portrayed as this beautiful, pristine place on the planet that we cannot disturb because it will terribly upset the balance of nature and all this other garbage. It's just like they opposed the Alaska pipeline. They said, "If we put in the Alaska pipeline, we will destroy the caribou herd up there."
Well, they put in the Alaska pipeline. And, you know what happened? The caribou herd quadrupled. And you know why? Because the pipeline produces heat. And the caribou, even though they're wintertime beasts, enjoy a little warmth now and then. Particularly during, uh -- uh -- uh -- shall we say, "procreation." And the whackos are wrong.
If you put together a video of ANWR, you would see nothing but snow and rock. It is no place anybody's ever going to go. The wildlife that lives there wishes it didn't, but it's too stupid to figure out how to move anywhere. They don't have moving vans sent to their places like people in Philadelphia do when they want to get out of someplace. This is absolutely absurd.