Representative Markey and Supporters: Wrong on ANWR

 

 

DATE: February 17, 2003


BACKGROUND
: Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill on February 13, 2003 to designate nearly 1.6 million acres of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, thus permanently banning oil and gas exploration in the area.1


TEN SECOND RESPONSE
: Oil exploration in ANWR can be done in an environmentally-friendly manner, will provide thousands of jobs and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.


THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE
: The U.S. Department of Interior estimates that ANWR can provide between nine and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil.2 If oil exploration were approved, only 1.5 million acres (eight percent) of ANWR would be considered for environmentally-friendly exploration and less than 2,000 acres (less than one percent) of the Coastal Plain would be affected.3


DISCUSSION
: The following are charges and responses concerning oil exploration in ANWR:

Charge: Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA): "The industry loves the [Arctic National Wildlife] Refuge so much that it wants to brand it with scars for a lifetime."4

and

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ): "...keep the Arctic Refuge as it was meant to be - pristine, sacred and enduring."5

Response 1: Exploration in ANWR can be done safely and would not produce "scars for a lifetime." President Clinton's Department of Energy confirmed that current technology makes environmentally-friendly drilling possible. Ice-based roads, bridges, drilling pads and airstrips have become the standard for drilling in the Alaskan North Slope. It leaves virtually no marks indicating it was on the tundra; ice structures simply melt in the spring.6

Response 2: Congressman Markey claims the industry loves the Refuge, but does he himself love unemployment? Oil exploration in ANWR could provide between 250,000 and 735,000 new jobs7 and has a potential value between $125 and $350 billion (in 1998 dollars).8

Charge: Gene Karpinski, executive director of U.S. Public Interest Research Group: "It makes no sense to destroy one of the most beautiful places in the world."9

Response: Most people would not consider ANWR one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Coastal Plain, where exploration would occur, is a flat, treeless, nearly featureless plain where the temperature can drop to 40 degrees below zero in the winter.10 Nor would the proposed drilling "destroy" it.

Charge: Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT): "Our energy supply is not at stake, but if we drill in the refuge our environment will be."11

Response 1: We know oil exploration will not put the environment in danger. After 20 years of oil exploration at nearby Prudhoe Bay, the population of caribou has grown from 3,000 to as high as 23,400.10 Furthermore, modern infrastructure already exists in ANWR. The Inupiat Native Americans who live there have an airstrip, power lines and an oil well.13

Response 2: Oil exploration in ANWR could approximately replace what we currently import from Saudi Arabia for 30 years or replace one-half of what we import from the entire Persian Gulf for 36 years.14

Charge: Sarah James of the Gwich'in tribe: "The only right thing to do is to take care of that birthplace, that very special place."15

Response: The Gwich'in tribe does not live in ANWR. The Inupiat Native Americans are the only people native to the ANWR region, and they support exploration by a margin of 78 percent to nine percent.16 Pro-drilling resolutions in the Alaskan legislature have received 100 percent support from both parties.17


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

National Policy Analysis #324, "Environmentalists' Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Is Unfounded," by John Carlisle at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA324.html

National Policy Analysis #371, "Wishes Won't Fuel Our Economy: We Need Drilling" by Amy Ridenour at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA375.html

Ten Second Response #TSR21302, "Bill Clinton's Department of Energy is on Record: Oil and Gas Exploration is Environmentally Friendly" by Tom Randall at http://www.nationalcenter.org/TSR21302.html

National Policy Analysis #305, "Government Restrictions on Domestic Energy Development Contribute to U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil," by John Carlisle at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA305.html

Ten Second Response #TSR73001, "Environmental Groups Target Congress on Bush Energy Plan/ANWR" by Gretchen Randall at http://www.nationalcenter.org/TSR73001.html

"Top Ten Reasons to Support Development in ANWR," Arctic Power ANWR website, available at http://www.anwr.org/topten.htm as of February 6, 2003

"City of Kaktovik ANWR Survey," January 2000, Arctic Power ANWR website, available at http://www.anwr.org/features/kaktovik.htm as of February 7, 2003

"The Players," Arctic Power ANWR website, available at http://www.anwr.org/features/players/residents.htm as of February 6, 2003

"Potential Oil Production from the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Updated Assessment," U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., available at http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publications/arctic_national_wildlife_refuge/html/execsummary.html as of January 27, 2003

 

by Chris Burger, Program Coordinator
The John P. McGovern M.D. Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 202-543-4110 or [email protected]
The National Center for Public Policy Research
777 N. Capitol St. NE Suite 803
Washington, D.C. 20002

 


Footnotes:

1 "Record Number of Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," Press Release, Congressman Ed Markey, Washington, D.C., February 13, 2003, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.house.gov/markey/iss_arctic_pr030213.pdf on February 14, 2003.
2 "Top Ten Reasons to Support Development in ANWR," Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.anwr.org/topten.htm on February 6, 2003.
3 "Top Ten Reasons to Support Development in ANWR."
4 "Record Number of Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."
5 Eryn Gable, "Markey Offers Bill to Block Drilling in ANWR," Environment and Energy Daily, February 14, 2003, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.eenews.net/EEDaily/Backissues/02140306.htm on February 14, 2003 (password required).
6 "Environmental Benefits of Advanced Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Technology," U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Natural Gas and Petroleum Technology, Washington, D.C.
7 "Top Ten Reasons to Support Development in ANWR."
8 "Potential Oil Production from the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Updated Assessment," U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., downloaded from the Internet at http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publications/arctic_national_wildlife_refuge/html/execsummary.html on January 27, 2003.
9 Gable.
10 U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski, "Drilling Won't Make it Less of a Refuge," The Washington Post, December 10, 2000.
11 Gable.
12 "Top Ten Reasons to Support Development in ANWR."
13 Murkowski.
14 Gretchen Randall, "In Movie Theatre Ads, Actor Martin Sheen Attacks Proposed ANWR Drilling," Ten Second Response, October 19, 2001, available on the Internet at http://www.nationalcenter.org/TSR101901.html.
15 Gable.
16 "City of Kaktovik ANWR Survey," January 2000, Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.anwr.org/features/kaktovik.htm on February 7k, 2003.
17 "The Players," Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.anwr.org/features/players/residents.htm on February 6, 2003.