For those who are not aware, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR) in Alaska is said to hold the largest undiscovered oil reserve in North America, and maybe even the world. We have known about the oil in ANWAR for a long time, but thanks to campaigning from environmentalists, the land has been untouched. It is estimated that the potential for recoverable oil in ANWAR would range in the multiple billions of barrels, along with trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, according to Forbes.
The political battle over oil in ANWAR has been fought for many years, but the closest to drilling we have gotten was back in 1995 when only a President Clinton veto stopped a bill from Congress that would have opened up ANWAR. Now a couple of senators from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, are trying to resurrect the idea of drilling for oil in ANWAR. So, should we open up ANWAR Alaska for oil drilling?
This debate is tough for me. I certainly understand the economics of the matter and how beneficial this development could be for the U.S. economy. Not only would we be able to save billions of dollars off oil imports, but we would also see increased tax revenue and thousands of new jobs. Overall, it is without question that developing ANWAR would be great for the economy. At the same time, though, I can’t help but think of the environment.
Supporters of development in ANWAR claim that wildlife and oil development can coexist in harmony, and with the advances in technology, the chances of any mishaps are minimal. Yet when I watch videos like the one below I can’t help but have doubts:
If we could truly have both--development without interference to wildlife--I would be on board without hesitation, but I’m just not sure we are there yet, hence the internal debate I still have. The other thing to keep in mind is that it would likely be 15 years or so before any oil from ANWAR would hit the market. What if we were able to find a good alternative to oil within the next 15 years? The flip side of that argument, of course, is what if we don’t? If we think we are in dire straits now, just wait 15 years and see how bad things look if we don’t find some more oil soon. Just look back at the last time the ANWAR development bill was shot down, in 1995. Had that bill been passed we would soon be seeing the fruits of ANWAR’s black treasure; instead we are still in the same place we were back then development-wise, only with $130 per barrel oil instead of $16.86 per barrel oil, as it was back in 1995, according to the OPEC website.
I’m still undecided on the issue, and I guess to come to a conclusion, I will need to get more facts on the subject. If anyone has additional thoughts or information on the topic, I would love your input.