League of Conservation Voters Urges Members to Contact Senators as ANWR Vote Approaches


DATE: September 6, 2001

BACKGROUND: The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is urging its members to write their senators in opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A vote in the U.S. Senate on drilling, expected to take place as early as October, is, according to the LCV, "too close to call." In its action alert, LCV makes several claims that are misleading:

Claim: The Reagan administration once called the 1.5 million acre coastal area the "biological heart" of the refuge.

Response: The coastal plain is only part of the 19.6 million acres of the refuge. Of that, 8 million acres are designated wilderness. Drilling would only occur on 2,000 acres of the coastal region. And the coastal plain is not a pristine wilderness. A community of native Americans already exists there. Military installations operate in the plain as well.

Claim: The coastal plain is the birthing ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.

Response: Yes, this is true. However, when drilling began in nearby Prudhoe Bay, the caribou herd there numbered 6,000. Today the herd numbers 28,000. Wildlife there is unharmed and, given today's less invasive drilling methods, wildlife will not be harmed if drilling is allowed in ANWR.

Claim: The Gwich'in Athabascan tribe opposes drilling in the refuge.

Response: 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 (Source: UPI story, July 26, 2001, by Mike Martin).

Claim: The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is only 3.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil in the Refuge-less than six months of America's total usage today.

Response: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) says with certainty there is 5.7 billion barrels beneath the refuge with 10.3 billion barrels being the expected amount of recoverable oil. This is equivalent to 11-30 years of imported oil from Saudi Arabia. This estimate was made in 1998 based on data, which by today's techniques, underestimates discovered reserves.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: For information about the support of labor unions for drilling in ANWR go to "Energy Plan Passes U.S. House," by Gretchen Randall, at http://www.nationalcenter.org/TSR80601.html

by Gretchen Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
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