Oil Drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuges America Should Reject the Oil Businesses Plan and Permanently Protect The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, comprising more than nineteen million acres in the northern corner of Alaska, is unique and one of the largest units of the National Wildlife system. The Arctic Refuge has long been recognized as an unparalleled place of natural beauty and ecological importance. The Arctic Refuge was established to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity, as well as provide the opportunity for local residents to continue their subsistence way of life. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Refuge, calls it "the only conservation system unit that protects, in an undisturbed condition, a complete spectrum of the arctic ecosystems in North America." ('Alaska Wild') As early as the 1930's, leading biologists and conservationists were captivated by the scenic beauty and wildlife diversity of Alaska's northeastern Arctic.
In the early 1950's, a survey was conducted by the National Park Service to determine which Alaskan lands merited protection. This northeast corner was deemed, "the finest park prospect ever seen." After years of political battles and activism, supporters of the Arctic Refuge achieved victory. On December 6, 1960, during the Eisenhower Administration, Interior Secretary Fred Seaton signed Public Land Order No. 2214. This order established the 8. 9 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Range to protect the wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.
This order closed the area to mineral entry. Twenty years later, Congress passed and President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). This more than doubled the original size to 19. 8 million acres and established 8.
6 million acres of the original area as wilderness ('Alaska Wild'). This wildlife sanctuary is an awe-inspiring natural wonder. It contains an expanse of tundra with many marshes and lagoons with rivers situated between foothills of the Brooks Range and the wide, icy waters of the Beaufort Sea. Environmentalists said that this area "is the most biologically productive part of the Arctic Refuge for wildlife and is the center if wildlife activity." The importance of these resources is not measurable. The Arctic is home to such animals as caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, musk oxen, whales, wolves and snow geese. This area is full of wildflowers and contains water of excellent, unpolluted quality and quantity.
The Arctic Ocean costal plain is an area critical to the survival of many birds and mammals ('Alaska Wild'). With all the good the Arctic National Wildlife refuge has to offer as a safe haven for endangered animals and plant life, comes the burden of sitting on an oil reserve. As noted earlier in 1980, under President Carter, the protected area was doubled. However, the oil industry lobbies succeeded in having the U. S.
Senate refuse to designate the critically important Costal Plain as wilderness. Instead, Section 1002 of the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act legislation directed the Department of Interior to prepare a report on oil and gas potential in the Costal Plain, and the effects the oil development would have on the region's natural resources. The Costal Plain area is today often referred to as the "1002 area." The ANILCA legislation clearly stated the 1. 5 million acres Costal Plain would remain protected unless Congress specifically authorizes development ('Alaska Wild').
In the 1990's, the Arctic Refuge came under attack from multi-national oil companies and legislators. An attempt was made in 1995 to allow exploration and drilling in the Costal Plain as a budget bill. President Bill Clinton refused to sign the budget bill until this legislation was removed. At the turn of the century, the Arctic Refuge and its Costal Plain were still seen as a refuge for wildlife rather than a new home for the oil industry. With the past presidential campaign, George W. Bush vowed to open area 1002 to drilling.
Now he is in office, along with Interior Secretary, Gail Norton, who shares his view. Legislation was introduced in the House and Senate in early March 2001 to open the plain to drilling. Because of its enormous potential and the vital need for domestic sources of oil and gas, the Department of Interior recommends that the Congress enact Legislation which would make this entire available for oil drilling. Ms. Norton has been given the right to impose necessary and appropriate measures to protect refuge resource while efficiently removing oil. Despite the remote location, it is the most attractive onshore petroleum exploration target in the United States ('Resource Assessment').
It appears that the President, his Interior Secretary, and the Department of Interior have forgotten the first reason for creating this refuge. It was done by humans, who valued nature, not to be opened to oil drilling and possible development. The wildlife debate has focused mainly on the areas of importance to the Porcupine Caribou, and other species such as polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves and migratory birds are also at a great risk. The 107 th Congress is considering approving energy development in Alaska.
Shortages of gasoline, natural gas and the resulting increased prices have opened this debate. The events of September 11, 2001, have many people wanting to diminish business of foreign oil. President Bush has included drilling in the refuge as a major feature of his proposed energy plan. Few locations stir as much industry interest as area 1002 ('Next Chapter'). Development proponents, such as President Bush, argue that the Arctic Refuge oil would reduce U. S.
energy markets' exposure to recurring crises is the Middle East; boost North Slope oil production and the economic viability of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System; and create numerous jobs in Alaska and elsewhere. They maintain that the area can be developed with minimal environmental harm. Opponents argue that any intrusion on this ecosystem cannot be justified on any terms; that is should be designated as wilderness; and that oil found (if any) would provide little energy security and could be replaced by cost-effective alternatives ('Next Chapter'). This argument recalls the early efforts to allow development of the Costal Plain, such as the disaster of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Oil contamination from leaks in the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, during transfer to tankers, and from tanker accidents caused more than 10 million gallons of crude oil to spill into the Prince William Sound.
This spill contributed to the deaths of more than 250, 000 seabirds, 2, 800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, and nearly two-dozen whales, and continues to effect the population today. Despite claims by the big oil companies that they can drill and have drilled responsibly on Alaska's North Slope, spills are common ('Big Oil'). On April 8, 2002, the U. S. Senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed oil and gas drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Rescue.
"It doesn't make sense to ruin one of America's last wild places for six months of oil that wouldn't reach consumers for anther ten years," said Arctic Wilderness Campaign Director Athan Manuel. He also said that the Senate vote shows that "people around the world support protection for this place and we hope that the Bush Administration and their allies in Congress will stop pushing to allow oil and gas drilling." (PIRG) There are factors that must be kept in mind when dealing with the issue of opening the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. First, the estimates of the area's oil potential, both old and new, depend on limited data and numerous assumption's about geology and economics. New geological data compared to the old, change estimates of the refuges' oil potential.
In June 1995, the U. S. Geological Survey revisited estimates from 1991. They ultimately reduced its highest estimates of recoverable oil from 10 billion to 5. 15 billion barrels.
Second, once promising areas have often not produced significant amounts of oil. The projected price of oil is another contributing factor. The price of oil has not risen to the extent assumed by the Bureau of Land Management in 1987, increasing steadily over coming decades ('Next Chapter'). The key to what makes oil economically recoverable is largely determined by the price of oil and the costs of its extraction. If the oil is more expensive to pump because of technical challenges or remoteness, added environmental regulations are needed to protect a sensitive ecosystem or other costs. The selling price of oil must be higher to turn a profit.
Lower oil prices mean that the field must be larger to make drilling economically feasible ('Oil Estimates'). The U. S. Geological Survey estimates that oil recovered from the refuge would amount to less than a six month supply for American consumers. At no time would oil from the refuge be expected to amount to more than two percent of U. S.
demand. It is also stated that it would take ten years before any oil would make it to market ('Old Tune'). One out of every eight barrels of oil our nation imports comes from the Middle East. The rest come from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and here in the United States. More oil can be derived from the existing oil fields. Utilizing new technologies, six billion barrels can be recovered in New Mexico, and another sixty billion barrels from the fields in Texas and Oklahoma ('Congress Break').
The United States has at most two to three percent of the world's oil reserves while accounting for twenty-five percent of the world's oil consumption. At our current rate of consumption, The United States will go from importing fifty to sixty percent of oil in the coming decades, even if the refuge is opened (protect). It is not possible to produce our own oil, even if we sacrifice all our parks, refuges, and coastlines. Oil is a global commodity. U. S.
production of oil cannot hope to influence oil prices. In the 1970's, after oil companies tapped the vast oil fields in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope, the price of oil moved higher. The new production in Alaska represented no more that a "blip on the global oil market" ('Old Tune'). The vast majority of the increase in U. S. oil consumption in the last decade is in transportation.
Industrial, residential and commercial use of oil has remained more or less constant due to investments in energy efficiency. Unfortunately, the average fuel efficiency of our vehicles has declined in recent years. Automakers can produce vehicles that are significantly more fuel-efficient. For example, the Toyota Pries, a new gas-electric hybrid vehicle that sells for around $17, 000, gets sixty-six miles per gallon ('Big Oil'). By increasing fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks by just a few miles per gallon, we can replace all the oil we import from the Middle East.
That will create jobs, and help free our nation for the influence of foreign oil ('Congress Break'). The benefits of an energy policy focused on conservation and alternatives are not just environmental, but are also beneficial to our national security, our economic competitiveness in the would, and our balance of payments; we cannot afford to wait until the would runs out of oil to make this transition ('Old Tune'). There is a broad coalition to save America's Arctic. There are religious, labor, environmental and investment groups who work together to protect the Refuge. Polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of union members oppose opening the Arctic Refuge to destructive oil drilling. Unions representing millions of working men and women have publicly opposed drilling.
They realize that drilling will not solve our energy problems, will not reduce energy costs for working families, and will not create a significant number of new jobs. Unions feel that money should be invested in renewable energy and increased efficiency. This will create about three times as many jobs as an equivalent expenditure on oil, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Energy Bureau ('Organized Labor). Many religious groups share the notion of holding sacred the wonders of creation. Every religious tradition cautions us to "temper our cravings for sensation and material things, yet we pursue them addictive ly, vainly hoping to fill our spiritual emptiness." Religious teachings forbid theft, "yet everyday we live un sustainably, we steal from our children and our children's children." ('Organized Labor') The Arctic Refuge cannot be developed without destroying the wild, natural values. The area would no longer be wilderness; the coastal plain would be occupied with a network of roads, pipelines, and development.
The Arctic Refuge need not be developed if the U. S. were to instead develop a sound energy policy that recognizes our own limitations to find oil in the U. S. and focuses on the development of energy conservation and efficiencies, alternatives and renewable's. The only way out of our current dilemma and the only way for America to gain energy independence is the invest in energy efficient technology, become less reliant on oil, take in conservation methods, or switch to energy alternatives such as hydrogen, and renewable's, such as wind and solar.
The Coastal Plain is a unique internationally recognized are that is a "biological heart" of the Arctic Refuge. It cannot be developed with out destroying the wild, natural values. Protecting the plain is not just an environmental issue; it is a human rights issue for the G wich " in Indians, who rely on this important area to keep their way of life. Ninety-five percent of Alaska's North Slope is already available for oil exploration. We don't have to sacrifice the last five percent for an oil project that does not guarantee a decent supply of oil.
Oil Drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge Works Cited " Your Voice for Alaska's Wilderness in the Nation's Capital." Alaska Wilderness League. Online. Internet. 31 Oct. 2001. Available web "Oil Drilling in the Arctic Refuge, A New Look at Old Estimates." Alaska Wilderness League.
Online. Internet. 24 Nov. 2001.
Available web estimates. html " The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: The Next Chapter." Online. Internet. 5 Nov. 2001. Available web "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, Coastal Plain Resource Assessment." Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Development Issues.
August 2001. Online. Internet. 5 Nov. 2001. Available web "Don't Allow Big Oil to Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Defenders of Wildlife.
October 2001. Online. Internet. 25 Oct. 2001. Available web "Congress Will Take a Break, Will Return on November 26 th." Audubon.
19 November 2001. Online. Internet. 24 Nov. 2001. Available web "Organized Labor Opposes Drilling." State PIRGs' Arctic Wilderness Campaign.
19 April 2002. Online. Internet. 20 April 2002. Available web "Senate Rejects Arctic Refuge Drilling Amendment." U. S.
PIRG Online Newsroom 18 April 2002. Online. Internet. 19 April 2002. Available web "America Should Reject Big Oil's Tired Old Tune." Press Statement: The Wilderness Society. 28 September 2001.
Online. Internet. 24 Nov. 2001. Available web oil 092800. htm.