Andre Gide wrote that "everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again."
Which is kind of why the wrangling over the construction of the Keystone pipeline resonates like the debate that raged seven years ago over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR.
In 2005, Republican Congressional leaders demanded that the federal government open up a portion of the 19 million acre refuge in northeast Alaska to drill for oil.
"Developing a small section of ANWR would not only create thousands of new jobs, but it would eventually reduce our dependence on foreign oil by up to a million barrels of oil a day," said President George W. Bush in a March, 2005 speech.
But it was only natural that turmoil was brewing. In the 1990s, the head of the Sierra Club described ANWR as the "poster child" of the environmental movement.
So proponents of the energy project met fierce opposition from most Democrats and those in the environmental lobby.
Environmental activists fretted that oil production could foul such a pristine region which contains no roads and is barely populated. They were particularly concerned about a primary calving area for 129,000 caribou close to the Brooks Range mountains. They also contended that approving the refuge for energy production would be a big corporate payoff to energy giants.
"This is a sweetheart deal for oil companies," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in November, 2005. "Let's not pollute one of the last, great refuges in America."
Of course, spiking oil prices punctuated the entire ANWR debate seven years ago as the cost of a barrel of oil kissed record highs. Global demand, augmented by growth in China pushed gasoline prices higher. That tightened the worldwide supply.
The House initially approved drilling in ANWR as a part of an energy bill. But Congressional negotiators stripped the provision in a conference committee. The Senate added ANWR drilling to its budget resolution that year. But lawmakers again removed the ANWR language later.
In December, 2005, the final piece of legislation moving through Congress for the year was a major defense spending bill. The package carried a litany of other "must-pass" elements. That made it hard for even opponents of ANWR to vote against the entire package. It was clear the ANWR issue had the necessary support in the House. But there were questions about the Senate where 60 votes are often required to break a filibuster. A team of Democratic senators, including Cantwell, filibustered the Senate version of the legislation. That ultimately forced the Congressional Republican leadership to yank the ANWR drilling language out of the bill.
No lawmaker in Congress was a more ardent supporter of ANWR drilling than the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). As soon as it was clear the GOP couldn't break the filibuster, a visibly angry Stevens seized the Senate floor.
"I'm going to go to every one of your states and I'm going to tell them what you've done," he fumed. Stevens held particular contempt for Cantwell. Cantwell faced a potentially challenging re-election bid in 2006 after winning her seat in 2000 by one-tenth of one percentage point. Stevens snarled that he was sure "the senator from Washington will enjoy my visits."
But in 2005, there just weren't the votes for ANWR. Cantwell handily won re-election in 2006. Stevens lost his Senate seat in 2008 after a jury convicted him of corruption charges (the conviction was later overturned). Stevens then died in a 2010 plane crash.
No one says much about ANWR in Congress any more. They still talk about it in Alaska, though. A group of Alaska state legislators head to Washington this week to push for Arctic drilling.
"I don't know if there's anything new, because it's such an old battle," said Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault (R) to the Anchorage Daily News.
Drilling in ANWR may be an old battle. But it appears that the feud over construction of the Keystone pipeline may have usurped ANWR for now. The parallels between the two fights are remarkable.
There's a dramatic escalation of gas prices. The Lundberg Survey, which tracks fuel prices nationwide, says the average price for a gallon of gas jumped more than 11 and-a-half-cents over the past two weeks. On average, consumers are now paying more than $3.51 for a gallon of regular. Prices are expected to explode come summertime.
It appears the Keystone pipeline has a lot more support from Democrats than drilling in ANWR ever had. But President Obama formally rejected its construction last month. That presented Republicans with an opportunity to lord the president's decision over his head in an election year.
Then there are the environmental concerns.
In the summer of 2010, then-Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote a letter which urged the State Department to reject the construction of the pipeline. Waxman argued the project wasn't environmentally sound as it would transport a potentially dirty form of fuel into the U.S. Waxman also questioned whether responders were adequately prepared to handle a cleanup if there was a possible spill.
Then there is the "foreign oil" component. Proponents of the pipeline argue that it's a lot better for the U.S. to import fuel from Canada rather than the Middle East or Venezuela.
"This is an area where we can get a million barrels from our friends the Canadians," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) at a press conference about Keystone.
Finally, advocates believe that Keystone will provide work for thousands of Americans, much the same way as President George W. Bush touted possible jobs associated with ANWR.
"We have an employment problem among blue collar men," said Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). "Not only are we going to have mining, we'll have construction and then we'll have manufacturing of the pipes that will go into the pipeline."
In December, 2005, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In fact, Barton suffered a heart attack during the final effort to push ANWR drilling through Congress. The Texas Republican sees comparisons between the ANWR fight and that of Keystone.
"They're both big energy projects. They both have environmental impacts to them," Barton said. "But ANWR took on a life of its own. It became a Democratic dogma to be against it."
That's not necessarily the case now. Many Democrats support constructing the Keystone pipeline.
"I think Keystone will turn out differently than ANWR," Barton added.
A key turning point for Keystone could come this week.
In 2005, Republican Congressional leaders attached ANWR drilling onto a big defense bill, daring lawmakers to vote against it. Today, leaders are loading the Keystone provision onto a massive bill to fund transportation and energy projects as well as improve the jobs picture. The bill is expected to pass the House.
But the problem of course could be the Senate.
In 2005, there was clear support for ANWR drilling in the House, but it couldn't overcome a Senate filibuster.
The route for the transportation and infrastructure measure is unclear in the Senate. In fact, many Democrats decried the package as hyper-partisan and threatened to withhold their support.
Trouble in the Senate could be enough to send Keystone to a legislative grave, alongside ANWR, circa 2005.
With that big bill up for a vote soon, lawmakers will soon know the fate of Keystone and whether it mirrors the fate of ANWR.
Or as Andre Gide wrote, they'll know if what was said in 2005 was said again in 2012.