ANWR Drilling Still Alive, Contrary to Reports

NCPA'S Burnett Says "ANWR Will Likely Reappear in Final Budget Bill"

WASHINGTON, DC (March 20, 2003) -- Congress may still open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling this year, contrary to reports of its demise, according to H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

"The Senate vote earlier this week was just one of many steps for ANWR passage this year," Burnett said today. "It's not over until the fat lady sings, and she has not even begun to warm up."

Burnett noted that opening ANWR will likely make it into the House version of the budget resolution. The two budget bills will then go to a conference committee, where it is more than likely to survive, especially in light of the conflict in Iraq. Senators will then be forced to vote up or down on the conference report, which is much more difficult to filibuster, as opposed to being able to vote on a specific provision of the resolution. In addition, ANWR will be the centerpiece of the White House's energy bill, Burnett noted.

Burnett also pointed to the following reasons why opening ANWR for drilling is important:

  • U.S. dependence on foreign oil is at an all-time high, with as much as a quarter of our imports coming from the Middle East.
  • According to the best estimates, ANWR has enough oil to replace all of the oil imported from Iraq for more than 50 years and from Saudia Arabia for as much as 20 years.
  • Drilling in ANWR can be accomplished with a minimum of environmental impact, using less than 1 percent of the refuge - 2,000 out of 19 million acres.
  • Private environmental organizations have found drilling and environmental protection are compatible on their own lands.
  • ANWR is also important to keep and maintain the usefulness of the trans-Alaskan oil pipeline. To keep the remaining but dwindling stocks of oil in Prudhoe Bay flowing, the pipeline must keep the pressure up, which takes a sufficient amount of oil. * Increasing CAFE standards is not a useful alternative to increasing domestic production through ANWR since it would require putting American families in less safe vehicles. Current CAFE standards already cost more lives each year than were lost in the original Gulf War.

"If ANWR had been opened for drilling back in 1990 when proposed by the first President Bush, we would be less dependent on foreign oil today. And then maybe the false attacks that we're at war for oil would hold even less weight," said Burnett.