DATE: July 30, 2001
BACKGROUND: The League of Conservation Voters (LCV)
has begun running radio and print ads designed to encourage voters
to call their representatives and voice opposition to drilling
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Southwest Utah
Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is urging its members to contact U.S.
representatives and urge them to vote "NO" on the energy
bill as it goes to the U.S. House floor this week.
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: There is no reason we can't protect
our environment while at the same time opening up some of the
federal lands that contain abundant supplies of energy.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Today there are safe ways of
drilling for oil that leave a very small footprint and that do
not harm wildlife. Caribou have flourished on Alaska's North Slope
with the pipeline overhead. Opening ANWR to oil production would
use only a small amount of land out of 19.5 million acres. It
is crucial for our national security that we not rely too heavily
on foreign sources of energy.
DISCUSSION: Radio ads by LCV have targeted three Republican
congressmen: Reps. Greg Ganske (R-IA), Mark Kennedy (R-MN) and
Rob Simmons (R-CT) with spots running in Des Moines, Iowa; St.
Paul, Minnesota; and Hartford, Connecticut. Also supporting the
ads are the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, US Public Interest
Research Group and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The arguments used by SUWA against drilling in ANWR are listed
below with responses to each:
Charge: ANWR is the last great wilderness and provides
habitat for 129,000 porcupine caribou as well as grizzlies, wolves,
polar bears and millions of migratory birds.
Response: When drilling began in nearby Prudhoe
Bay, the caribou herd there numbered 6,000. Today the heard numbers
28,000. Wildlife there is unharmed and with today's less-invasive
drilling methods, wildlife will not be harmed if drilling is allowed
in ANWR. Pipelines have even become "highways" for the
animals. For photos of this go to http://www.anwr.org
and click on "photo gallery."
Charge: Drilling in the Refuge will only supply 2 percent
of our oil demands at any given time.
Response: The Energy Information Agency (EIA)
says there is a virtual certainty of 5.7 billion barrels beneath
the Refuge with 10.3 billion barrels being the expected amount
of recoverable oil. This amount is equivalent to 11-30 years of
imported oil from Saudi Arabia. This estimate made in 1998 was
based on data, which by today's techniques underestimate discovered
reserves. For the full report see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publications/arctic_national_wildlife_refuge/html/execsummary.html.
Charge: Conservation and better auto fuel efficiency,
alternative fuels and inflating our car tires fully would save
more oil than what's estimated to be beneath the Refuge.
Response: Alternative fuels account for .2
percent of total vehicle fuel consumption in 2000, according to
the Energy Information Agency (GAO-01-957T: Alternative Motor
Fuels and Vehicles" July 10, 2001). Improved fuel efficiency
is a goal to strive toward but it does not provide more fuel.
With more efficient vehicles, people drive more miles.
Charge: 95% of Alaska's North Slope is open for exploration
and development. Let's save the last 5%.
Response: Only 2000 acres of the 19.5 million
acres of the Refuge are being considered for drilling. With the
new directional drilling which allows drilling with fewer rigs
and a very small pad as well as ice roads that melt in the summer,
there would be a very small impact on the Refuge.
Charge: Since 1996 Prudhoe Bay oil fields and the Trans-Alaskan
Pipeline have averaged 427 spills annually. Since Feb. 2001 13,000
gallons of oil have spilled. There is no "environmentally
friendly" way to drill for oil.
Response: Inspectors recently found the source
of a spill in the North Slope to be naturally occurring seepage
from the oil field. Shallow deposits allow surface leaks of oil
to bubble up out of the ground on its own (Anchorage Daily News,
July 3, 2001). Modern methods of drilling allow dozens of wells
into a 10-mile radius from a single location. For more technical
information go to http://www.anwr.org/techno/techno.htm.
Charge: The bill would require an inventory of all federal
lands, including BLM Wilderness Study Areas, BLM National Monuments,
National Wildlife Refuges and National Forest Roadless Areas for
coal and geothermal potential and would speed the issuance of
Response: Why shouldn't the federal government
finally inventory its land so, as citizens, we know what energy
resources lie beneath it? A recent GAO report showed that the
Department of Interior did "not have complete and accurate
information on the lands within its control ("Government
at the Brink: An Agency by Agency Examination of Federal Government
Management Problems facing the Bush Administration" June,
MORE INFORMATION: Fully 75% of Alaskans including the
90,000 member Alaska Federation of Native Peoples support the
plan, according to the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, an Inupiat
tribal holding company (UPI story, July 26, 2001 by Mike Martin).
Labor unions also support opening ANWR to drilling because
of the new jobs it would create. The Teamsters have come out in
favor of President Bush's energy plan, stating that the building
of pipelines and power plants would provide 1,000 new construction
jobs per plant and 5,000 jobs per 1,000 miles of pipeline (letter
to editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, July 9, 2001, from Bill Hogan,
president of Joint Council 25, International Brotherhood of Teamsters).
Overall U.S. energy consumption is expected to increase by
30 percent over the next 20 years. We now produce 39 percent less
oil than we did in 1970. 40 percent of our domestic gas resources
are now off limits or subject to restrictions that make it difficult
to develop (figures from Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham's
speech delivered May 24, 2001 at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
by Gretchen Randall, Director of Energy & Regulatory
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or GRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613