The Case for Oil
Drilling at ANWR
In December of 1995, President Clinton vetoed oil drilling at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), claiming that “…the coastal plain was the biological heart of ANWR and exploration or development would ruin the pristine area.” The spot price of crude oil at the time was around $17/barrel.
Environmentalists cheered, and have been violently opposed to any drilling beyond the miniscule exploratory work authorized by Congress in the 1990s. Groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace have controlled the terms of the debate ever since then, claiming that oil drilling would so ravage ANWR’s landscape as to kill off all native wildlife. Since the price of gas was relatively low in 1995, there was little public resistance to Clinton's veto. Conservatives and free-market advocates condemned it, but there were not enough people who agreed with them to make a difference. The ban on drilling held.
But now times have changed.
First there were the attacks on 9/11, funded by Osama Bin Laden. His rich Saudi family drew attention to the billions of dollars flowing like a river from the wallets of American drivers to the bank accounts of terrorists and their Middle East supporters.
Then came the explosive rise in oil prices, caused at least partly by the rapid industrialization of China and India. Oil at $17/barrel is a distant memory now (we’re over $140 and counting). A single gallon of gas, depending on where you live in the U.S., costs $4.50 or more. The American public is hurting, and looking anxiously for solutions. One of the places they’re looking is ANWR. The old arguments from environmentalists are being reviewed again, only much more closely this time.
The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve is a piece of land some 19 million acres in size. Congress put 8 million acres of it into formal wilderness status and designated another 9.5 million acres as wildlife refuge. Those 17.5 million acres form a protected enclave almost as large as the state of South Carolina. By law, it can never be developed.
Conservative commentator George Will puts it another way. “ANWR,” he writes, “is larger than the combined areas of five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware), and drilling along its coastal plain would be confined to a space one-sixth the size of Washington's Dulles Airport.”
No-one has argued the truth of this point. All told, the oil companies are perfectly willing (and legally compelled) to restrict their activities to an area which is 1/10th of 1% the size of the whole of ANWR. That's all they need or want. It's a tiny, tiny piece. But still the environmentalists oppose them.
In the past, drilling opponents have bolstered their arguments with photographs of ANWR’s mountains, streams, and meadows, implying that the oil companies cared nothing for such natural beauty and would cover it all with derricks and oil spills without a second thought. And it happens to be true that many natural wonders can be found in ANWR. It’s completely understandable that people recoil from the thought of their spoilage. But that’s not where the oil companies want to drill. And it’s deceptive and wrong for drilling foes to try to make people think otherwise.
ANWR is huge and diverse. The places in it where the photographers go to take their lovely pictures – places like the Brooks Mountains – are far, far removed from the barren tundra of the coastal plain, where the oil companies need to drill. The coastal plain is vastly different from the Brooks Range.
The coastal plain is a flat, treeless, almost featureless expanse in northeastern Alaska that extends from the Brooks Range northward to the Beaufort Sea. The temperature can drop to -40 degrees Fahrenheit in January. Few animals can thrive in those temperatures.
Both candidates in the 2008 Presidential Election oppose oil drilling in ANWR. That Senator Obama, the most liberal Democrat in the Senate, should oppose it is no surprise. His party, the political home for the environmental lobby, is deeply hostile to the oil industry.
But Senator McCain’s opposition is surprising, especially given his recent proposal to open up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for drilling. If anything, OCS drilling is riskier for the environment than drilling in ANWR.
In a day and age such as this, when an online Google search can reveal in less than a minute with a few mouse clicks the truth about ANWR’s mountains and frozen tundra (here’s a Google link for someone on McCain’s staff, in case they need it), there is no reason for falsehoods about this issue to cloud anyone’s mind.
And since McCain is famously unafraid to stick his neck out and offend would-be voters – he told farmers in Iowa that he was opposed to ethanol subsidies; he told auto-workers in Michigan that he wouldn’t bail out Detroit; he told homeowners in Florida he was against government insurance for hurricanes – it would seem to be a simple thing for the Arizona Senator to admit he was wrong and change his position on drilling in ANWR. It's just not at all like drilling in the Grand Canyon, Senator. Whoever told you that was full of it.
Maybe the final proof that drilling in ANWR doesn’t spell doom for all living things nearby should come from the same animals that environmentalists are so fond of using in their campaigns. Maybe no other party can make this case to the public. Republicans have had their shot. Conservatives too – the capitalists and the big corporations. But the polar bears and the arctic fox, the caribou and the owls, nesting and herding and playing in and around the pipelines in plain sight of the oil rig, flourishing in the arctic oil fields – let them testify too. Here they are:
After all is said and done, environmentalists should be happy about ANWR. Their concerns are being met. They’ve had a huge impact on the oil companies – and on the wilderness they want to preserve. If Big Oil were as callous and uncaring as they’re routinely portrayed in the media, could these photographs have been taken? Let the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and Greenpeace swallow this bitter pill: the caribou herds are thriving. The polar bear population is healthy. Ecological diversity in ANWR is intact. And we can drill for oil too.
For more information on the ANWR oil drilling controversy, please visit the Anwr.org web site.
VISIT OUR SPONSORS
ChristianMusic.com & HomeVideos.com & Nightmares.com
BabyDoctors.com & BigScreens.com & PetDoctors.com & RetirementParties.com & UsedTrucks.com