NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Arguments To Keep In Mind About Drilling In The Artic

March 30, 2001

The U.S. needs more energy and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska has the potential to supply billions of barrels of oil to help satisfy the need. Although the solution sounds simple, environmentalists have launched a political jihad against opening up even a minute portion of it to oil development.

They paint the area as pristine, drilling as dirty and oil deposits as minimal. But experts warn that the environmentalists are wrong on all three counts.

  • While critics of drilling in the ANWR claim the area would only fuel the U.S. for six months, the fact is that deposits there represent the biggest oil find in North America in 30 years -- up to 16 billion barrels.
  • That's enough to replace what we currently import from Saudi Arabia for 20 to 30 years.
  • Oil operations would be conducted on only 2,000 acres of ANWR's 19.5 million acres -- amounting to one-hundredth of a percent of the refuge.
  • The actual area to be drilled -- the coastal plain -- is no environmental paradise, and is already home to roads, houses, schools, military installations and airstrips.

Experts report that drilling wouldn't adversely affect the environment. Crews would be drilling only in winter -- stopping during caribou migration. Special ice roads would be built that don't touch the tundra. And 3D seismic technology would be employed to pinpoint where the oil is and limit drilling.

Energy analysts warn that the alternative is greater dependence on Middle Eastern oil and an invitation to its producers to go on raising prices.

Source: Editorial, "Cold Hard Facts," Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2001.

 

Browse more articles on Environment Issues