A bill was just introduced yesterday by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and 23 other senators to close ANWR (The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) coastal plain to oil and gas development.  Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) re-introduced a similar bill (H.R. 39) on January 7.  Lieberman said that, “The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a pristine natural treasure that must be preserved for future generations.”

Really?  Pristine?

Oil exploration on Arctic Costal Plain

A description by Jonah Goldberg (who has been there) may be helpful (family friendly warning – a little crude in the beginning of the article).  Basically it (the coastal plain) is a godforsaken place that in the summertime is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and in the winter is in complete darkness and covered with ice.  I’m just wondering what future generations will go up there to enjoy?  Perhaps Senator Lieberman and Congressman Markey should vacation up there.

Opening the coastal plain of ANWR to oil and gas exploration has been an ongoing battle:

A 1980 law established the 19-million-acre ANWR and barred development permanently, except in the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, where oil and gas drilling can occur with congressional authorization.  Efforts by the Bush administration and Republican lawmakers to make that possible have failed often in the face of stiff opposition from Democrats.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that ANWR could hold 10.6 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 Tcf of gas.

Who supports drilling in ANWR?  Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (who has been to ANWR), the bi-partisan Congressional delegation from Alaska (who I would say know a tad more about ANWR than Senator Lieberman), and 75% of all Alaskans support developing ANWR (only 19% oppose).  Even the Alaskan Natives who depend upon the land support its development.

Here are the top ten reasons to support development in ANWR.  Along with that Governor Sarah Palin wrote an open public letter which makes a very good case for drilling in ANWR’s 10-02 coastal plain area.

I am dismayed that legislation has again been introduced in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America — the coastal plain of ANWR, in Alaska.

Let’s not forget: Only six months ago, oil was selling for nearly $150 per barrel, while Americans were paying $4 a gallon and more for gasoline. And today, there is potential for prices to rebound as OPEC asserts its market power, and as Russia is disrupting needed natural gas to Europe, for the second time in three years.

As I traveled throughout the country campaigning for Vice President, I was glad to hear politicians, including President-elect Obama, promise “everything was on the table” to address America’s great challenges. I also found that when Americans were apprised of the facts, most people became supporters of responsible oil and gas drilling in Alaska. So, I want to remind our national leaders of this promise, and make the case against this legislation that would permanently take off the table any consideration of responsible ANWR drilling.

* Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.

* ANWR sits within a 20 million acre refuge (the size of South Carolina) but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a two-by-three-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.

* Energy development is quite compatible with the protection of our wildlife and their habitat. For example, North Slope caribou herds have grown and remained healthy throughout more than three decades of our oil development. Most of the year, our coastal plain is frozen solid and thus characterized by low biological productivity.

* ANWR development would create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs, positively affecting every state by providing a safe energy supply and generating demand for goods and services.

* Development here would reduce U.S. dependence on unstable, dangerous sources of energy, such as the Middle East, and would decrease our huge trade deficit, a large percentage of which is directly attributable to oil imports.

* Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.

* Federal revenues from ANWR — cash bids, leases, and oil taxes — would help reduce the multi-trillion dollar national debt, and we’d circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.

The development of oil and clean burning natural gas isn’t a panacea. However, this development should be authorized in comprehensive legislation that includes alternative fuels, fuel efficiency, and conservation.

Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other products graphically illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well being of America.

Another important reality is that the location and quantity of oil production are drastically changing world geopolitics.

Energy producing countries are rapidly gaining world power. Several of these countries have objectives and value systems that are antithetical to U.S. interests.

Washington politicians should be horrified as we become increasingly dependent on these insecure, foreign sources while our U.S. petrodollars finance activities that harm America and our economic and military interests around the world.

If we don’t move now to enact a comprehensive energy policy that includes domestic oil and gas production, including ANWR, we will look back someday and regret that we failed to perceive a critical crossroads in the history of America. It’s not overly dramatic to say our nation’s future depends on the decisions made by the federal government over the next few months.

Polls show a majority of Americans now support responsible energy development in Alaska. Unfortunately, some disingenuous special interest groups are still fighting the public will in Congress.

Americans, please contact Congress and ask that all options stay on the table as we formulate our needed energy plan. Remind politicians about their promises to increase domestic oil and gas production.

This legislation is asinine because the technology exists to do this right.  Why shoestring us when it isn’t necessary?  Maybe our legislators can handle $4/gallon gas, but my family can’t handle that stress to our budget again.  Perhaps they are ok with us being beholden to OPEC nations indefinitely.  We need to send a message to them that this is a horrible piece of legislation  Contact your legislators today!  Let them know we want a comprehensive energy plan that includes oil and gas development on ANWR’s coastal plain and to oppose this legislation that has been introduced.

14 comments
  1. THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGING BLOG, SHANE! Take it from someone who lives in Alaska: ANWR is VAST “wilderness.” Sure there are animals who live there, and it would be unfair to say development would not affect them. However, Alaska is 3 times the size of the State of Texas! There is so much wilderness here that can’t even be reached by humans very easily and so much space for our animals to roam. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline “disrupted” the wildlife as well…but guess where caribou feed and warm up in the dead of winter? Beneath the heat of the disruptive pipeline. ANWR needs to be drilled. If we keep denying it, we cannot complain about the price and dependency of foreign crude.

    Melodys last blog post..Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

  2. THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGING BLOG, SHANE! Take it from someone who lives in Alaska: ANWR is VAST “wilderness.” Sure there are animals who live there, and it would be unfair to say development would not affect them. However, Alaska is 3 times the size of the State of Texas! There is so much wilderness here that can’t even be reached by humans very easily and so much space for our animals to roam. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline “disrupted” the wildlife as well…but guess where caribou feed and warm up in the dead of winter? Beneath the heat of the disruptive pipeline. ANWR needs to be drilled. If we keep denying it, we cannot complain about the price and dependency of foreign crude.

    Melodys last blog post..Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

  3. It’s interesting that in this blog post you make no mention of the environment. What looks barren to us is usually teeming with environmental activity that we still depend on.

    I realize that I won’t change your mind, but, as a staunch Christian, as you claim to be, keep in mind that Jesus asks us to be stewards of the earth. A steward would not upset a timeless, pristine balance of nature for what would amount to a few years’ worth of oil.

    Here is a link to an independent group that studies the controversy:
    http://www.policyalmanac.org/environment/archive/crs_anwr.shtml

    In particular, pay attention to these paragraphs:

    An updated assessment of an array of biological resources in the coastal plain was recently published by the Biological Research Division of USGS. The report analyzed new information about caribou, musk oxen, snow geese and other species in ANWR. The authors concluded that development impacts would be significant. A follow-up memo by one of the authors to the director of USGS clarified that if development were restricted to the western portion of the refuge (an option that was being considered then by the Administration) the Porcupine Caribou Herd would not be affected during the early calving period, since the herd is not normally found in the area at that time. Any impacts that might occur when the herd subsequently moves into the area were not discussed in the memo.

    Effects on polar bear dens in the Refuge have been an issue. Modern winter exploration technology, while an improvement on environmental impact over previous technologies in many respects, would be more likely to affect polar bears’ winter dens, or conversely, the mitigation required to protect bear dens could increase the cost of exploration, development and production. Polar bears are the subject of the international Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, to which the United States is a party. Musk oxen, snow geese, and other species have also featured in the ANWR debate. (For more about these species, see CRS Report RL31278.)

    For opponents of development, the central issue is whether the area should be maintained as an intact ecosystem – off limits to development – not whether development can be accomplished in an environmentally sound manner. In terms that emphasize deeply held values, supporters of wilderness designation argue that few places as untrammeled as the 1002 area remain on the planet, and fewer still on the same magnificent scale. Any but the most transitory intrusions (e. g., visits for recreation, hunting, fishing, subsistence use, research, etc.) would, in their view, damage the “sense of wonder” they see the area as instilling. The mere knowledge that a pristine place exists, whether one ever visits it, can be important to those who view the debate in this light.

  4. It’s interesting that in this blog post you make no mention of the environment. What looks barren to us is usually teeming with environmental activity that we still depend on.

    I realize that I won’t change your mind, but, as a staunch Christian, as you claim to be, keep in mind that Jesus asks us to be stewards of the earth. A steward would not upset a timeless, pristine balance of nature for what would amount to a few years’ worth of oil.

    Here is a link to an independent group that studies the controversy:
    http://www.policyalmanac.org/environment/archive/crs_anwr.shtml

    In particular, pay attention to these paragraphs:

    An updated assessment of an array of biological resources in the coastal plain was recently published by the Biological Research Division of USGS. The report analyzed new information about caribou, musk oxen, snow geese and other species in ANWR. The authors concluded that development impacts would be significant. A follow-up memo by one of the authors to the director of USGS clarified that if development were restricted to the western portion of the refuge (an option that was being considered then by the Administration) the Porcupine Caribou Herd would not be affected during the early calving period, since the herd is not normally found in the area at that time. Any impacts that might occur when the herd subsequently moves into the area were not discussed in the memo.

    Effects on polar bear dens in the Refuge have been an issue. Modern winter exploration technology, while an improvement on environmental impact over previous technologies in many respects, would be more likely to affect polar bears’ winter dens, or conversely, the mitigation required to protect bear dens could increase the cost of exploration, development and production. Polar bears are the subject of the international Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, to which the United States is a party. Musk oxen, snow geese, and other species have also featured in the ANWR debate. (For more about these species, see CRS Report RL31278.)

    For opponents of development, the central issue is whether the area should be maintained as an intact ecosystem – off limits to development – not whether development can be accomplished in an environmentally sound manner. In terms that emphasize deeply held values, supporters of wilderness designation argue that few places as untrammeled as the 1002 area remain on the planet, and fewer still on the same magnificent scale. Any but the most transitory intrusions (e. g., visits for recreation, hunting, fishing, subsistence use, research, etc.) would, in their view, damage the “sense of wonder” they see the area as instilling. The mere knowledge that a pristine place exists, whether one ever visits it, can be important to those who view the debate in this light.

  5. @Josh – thank you.

    @Melody – you are welcome, let’s hope Congress listens when people contact them.

    @Octopus – I want to be a steward of the environment as well, but there are extreme positions and this is one of them. The Federal government came in and declared an area the size of South Carolina off limits. What is being suggested here will have minimal impact on the environment. I believe it can be developed in an environmentally sound way.

    So who are we going to listen to? I’m going to listen to the Alaskans who would be impacted the most by this legislation.

  6. @Josh – thank you.

    @Melody – you are welcome, let’s hope Congress listens when people contact them.

    @Octopus – I want to be a steward of the environment as well, but there are extreme positions and this is one of them. The Federal government came in and declared an area the size of South Carolina off limits. What is being suggested here will have minimal impact on the environment. I believe it can be developed in an environmentally sound way.

    So who are we going to listen to? I’m going to listen to the Alaskans who would be impacted the most by this legislation.

  7. I’m with Octopus. We shouldn’t sully our nation’s natural beauty. We should allow the Middle Eastern nations, Russia, Venezuela, and Mexico (among others) to sully their nations’ beauty.

    If they have fewer environmental protections than we do, if they are more concerned about getting the oil to market than getting it out of the ground safely, what is that to us. At least we can sleep soundly in the knowledge that we did not disturb any American animals, and those Latin American animals probably like to be covered in oil anyway.

    ChrisBs last blog post..True Worship

  8. I’m with Octopus. We shouldn’t sully our nation’s natural beauty. We should allow the Middle Eastern nations, Russia, Venezuela, and Mexico (among others) to sully their nations’ beauty.

    If they have fewer environmental protections than we do, if they are more concerned about getting the oil to market than getting it out of the ground safely, what is that to us. At least we can sleep soundly in the knowledge that we did not disturb any American animals, and those Latin American animals probably like to be covered in oil anyway.

    ChrisBs last blog post..True Worship

  9. I have been to ANWR and you know nothing about this place. I have called Lieberman's office and thanked him for introducing this vital legislation.

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