NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Oil Drilling in Artic Still Alive

March 21, 2003

Congress may still open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling this year, contrary to reports of its demise, says 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. According to Burnett, opening ANWR for drilling remains important for the following reasons:

  • 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 Saudi 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.

"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.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "ANWR Drilling Still Alive, Contrary To Reports," Press Release, March 20, 2003, National Center for Policy Analysis.


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