ANWR Debate Heating Up Again

This from an editorial in the Fargo Forum:

In order to get the Energy Bill passed, Congress had to scrap a provision that would have opened up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Despite the desire of the Bush administration to violate ANWR, congressional leaders knew it would be a deal breaker for the entire bill.

But like garbage at low tide, attempts to open the refuge won’t go away.

This time, however, a rider on upcoming budget reconciliation bill in the House of Representatives might not fare well because 24 Republicans don’t like it. They’ve sent a letter to House leadership voicing their opposition to refuge drilling.

Among them are three committee chairman. Reps. Jim Ramstad and Mark Kennedy of Minnesota signed on, also.

Good for them.

Nothing has changed since the last attempt to open the refuge was made. There are no more proven oil reserves than there were last year.

If ANWR’s oil came on line tomorrow (it would take about 11 years to be developed), it would have no significant effect on the U.S. crude oil supply, nor would it reduce American dependence on imported oil. The multi-national oil companies that are pushing to develop the refuge likely would export most of it to Asia.

And Americans can be sure of this: Damaging the Arctic refuge to secure a relatively small amount of crude oil would not reduce gasoline prices at the pump. The argument that the supply-and-demand equation is causing gas prices to skyrocket seems like so much economic smoke and mirrors.

I’m sort of in the middle on this one.

On one hand, most of those opposed to drilling in ANWR keep talking about how the oil exploration will “damage” the reserve. That’s just not true. The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 19 million acres. Of that, only 1.5 million acres would need to be opened to oil exploration in order for the reserve to be tapped leaving the vast majority of the reserve pristine and untouched. And of that 1.5 million open acres only small portions would see a lot of activity and exploration, and even that would be subject to the exacting environmental regulations placed on domestic oil exploration.

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Add this to the fact that 75% of Alaskans (and this former Alaskan) support drilling in ANWR and I think you can safely say that most of the ANWR opponents (most of whom I’d guess have never been within 500 miles of ANWR) just don’t know what they’re talking about.

When it comes to whether or not ANWR will solve our oil problems, however, I tend to agree with those who are opposed to the drilling. Not because I’m opposed to drilling in ANWR (I’m very much in favor of it) but rather because I think its like putting a band-aid on an amputated limb.

According to some estimates the ANWR oil reserve can produce about 16 billion barrels of oil, making it the largest oil reserve in America. And that’s all well and good, but ANWR cannot provide us with enough oil alleviate our dependence on foreign sources. Could it make a difference? Sure. But not much of one.

Instead, this country needs to focus more on other energy sources. We need to find a way to to consume less oil. Period. There’s no way around that. So while I think we should drill in ANWR, I also think we need to reduce our demand for oil. If we could significantly reduce our need for oil then domestic sources like ANWR could provide us with enough oil so that we wouldn’t have to go to places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for our oil.

I think the benefits of that situation are clear.

So here’s what needs to happen: I think we should develop our oil reserves in ANWR, because we will need oil in the future regardless of how much it is. We also need to find a way to reduce our demand for oil as well. Doing both makes America a stronger nation than it would be if we just did one or the other.

(via The Flickertail Journal)

By Rob Port of Say Anything.

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