NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Case for Arctic Drilling

March 19, 2003

As the United States prepares to enter a war with Iraq, the case for drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is stronger than ever. Consequently, Senate Republicans are close to attaching an ANWR provision to a Senate budget resolution, according to political observers. There are compelling reasons to hope for their success:

  • The Arctic site is expected to produce 10.4 million barrels a day -- that compares to production of about one million barrels a day we currently realize from Texas.
  • The drilling area has been described as "flat, white nothingness" -- which covers no more than 2,000 acres, roughly the size of Washington's Dulles Airport.

A National Academy of Sciences report about the ecological impact of existing North Slope drilling of should calm the fears of those who predict disaster, say observers. Finding minimal impacts, the report also notes that North Slope oil operations have resulted in real improvements in schools, health care, housing and other services for Alaskan communities.

Finally, a gusher of new oil in Alaska would reduce the incentive to keep drilling in the Lower 48 states -- which have their own environmental costs to consider.

Source: Editorial, "Drilling for Votes," Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB104803759661980000,00.html


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