NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arctic Refuge Drilling Would Not Affect Caribou

April 9, 2002

A new U.S. Geological Survey study concludes that the most likely drilling scenarios under consideration for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should have no impact on caribou in the area. An earlier USGS report had warned that caribou "may be particularly sensitive" to oil exploration proposed there.

  • An Interior Department spokesman said the new report "demonstrates once again that we can protect wildlife and produce energy in an environmentally responsible way."
  • Interior officials had objected to the earlier report because is was predicated on a full-development scenario, which they say is not plausible.
  • Even the original report had stated that the effects of drilling could be minimal if conducted in a sensitive manner over a limited area.
  • Two of its five scenarios for caribou showed negligible effects.

Even the worst-case scenario for a fully developed coastal plain produced a mere 8 percent drop in calf survival rates for the 123,000 member Porcupine caribou herd.

Source: Michael Grunwald, "Warnings on Drilling Reversed," Washington Post, April 7, 2002.

For USGS studies


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