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Alaska: Open For Business. Finally.

Today, the United States Senate voted 51-49 to reject Senator Maria Cantwell's amendment striking drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Reserve) from the FY2006 budget.

Breaking ranks, both Hawaii Democrats, Akaka and Inouye, voted to keep drilling in the budget, as did Louisiana Senator Landrieu.

Meanwhile, Republicans voting to remove the provision included, unfortunately, one of WILLisms.com's favorite Senators, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, as well as Senator Smith of Oregon, Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine, Senator DeWine of Ohio, Senator Chafee of Rhode Island, and Senator McCain of Arizona.

"Independent" Senator from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, also voted to remove the provision, which was really no surprise.

Every other Republican voted "nay" (which means keeping drilling) and every other Democrat voted "yea" (which means no drilling).

As one blogger puts it, this shows that elections matter.

More on ANWR:

In 1980, President Carter and Congress set aside 1.5 million acres of ANWR’s Northern Coastal Plain for potential oil development. The drilling was not to happen unless it could be done with no significant effects on the wildlife and environment. Clearly, the time has come, as the Caribou and other wildlife have flourished in other, similar parts of Alaska affected by drilling. ANWR is a nice rallying point for the environmental movement, but environmentalists would serve their cause better by focusing on actual environmental problems and solutions. Drilling in ANWR simply makes good policy sense, from a foreign policy standpoint, an energy policy standpoint, and an environmental policy standpoint.


More fun facts about ANWR:

If ANWR became a state, it would be larger than ten other states in land area. Yet, the part of ANWR to be used for drilling would be smaller than Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

Click image for larger version.

The top ten reasons for opening ANWR to drilling, from anwr.org:

1. Only 8% of ANWR Would Be Considered for Exploration Only the 1.5 million acre or 8% on the northern coast of ANWR is being considered for development. The remaining 17.5 million acres or 92% of ANWR will remain permanently closed to any kind of development. If oil is discovered, less than 2000 acres of the over 1.5 million acres of the Coastal Plain would be affected. That's less than half of one percent of ANWR that would be affected by production activity.

2. Revenues to the State and Federal Treasury Federal revenues would be enhanced by billions of dollars from bonus bids, lease rentals, royalties and taxes. Estimates on bonus bids for ANWR by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Interior for the first 5 years after Congressional approval are 4.2 billion dollars.

3. Jobs To Be Created Between 250,000 and 735,000 ANWR jobs are estimated to be created by development of the Coastal Plain.

4. Economic Impact Between 1977 and 2004, North Slope oil field development and production activity contributed over $50 billion to the nations economy, directly impacting each state in the union.

5. America's Best Chance for a Major Discovery The Coastal Plain of ANWR is America's best possibility for the discovery of another giant "Prudhoe Bay-sized" oil and gas discovery in North America. U.S. Department of Interior estimates range from 9 to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

6. North Slope Production in Decline The North Slope oil fields currently provide the U.S. with nearly 16% of it's domestic production and since 1988 this production has been on the decline. Peak production was reached in 1980 of two million barrels a day, but has been declining to a current level of 943,000 barrels a day.

7. Imported Oil Too Costly In 2004 the US imported an average of 58% of its oil and during certain months up to 64%. That equates to over $150 billion in oil imports and over $170 billion including refined petroleum products. That's $19.9 million dollars an hour! Including defense costs the number would be nearly a trillion dollars.

8. No Negative Impact on Animals Oil and gas development and wildlife are successfully coexisting in Alaska's arctic. For example, the Central Arctic Caribou Herd (CACH) which migrates through Prudhoe Bay has grown from 3000 animals to its current level of 32,000 animals. The arctic oil fields have very healthy brown bear, fox and bird populations equal to their surrounding areas.

9. Arctic Technology Advanced technology has greatly reduced the 'footprint" of arctic oil development. If Prudhoe Bay were built today, the footprint would be 1,526 acres, 64% smaller.

10. Alaskans Support More than 75% of Alaskans favor exploration and production in ANWR. The Inupiat Eskimos who live in and near ANWR support onshore oil development on the Coastal Plain.

Some of those reasons for drilling in ANWR are better than the others, but overall, it just makes sense on so many levels to drill there.

Indeed, drilling in ANWR will provide prosperity to the local people:

So just how much oil is there in ANWR?

Left-wing environmentalists say 3.2 billion barrels, but other estimates put the amount at as high as 29.4 billion barrels, with 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The U.S. Department of the Interior currently estimates an "expected value of 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil." Liberals say that 3.2 billion barrels is only enough to last the United States for 6 months, but that is supremely disingenuous. One would have to shut off all other sources of energy and rely exclusively on ANWR for that to be the case. More likely, once up-and-running, ANWR would provide an additional 1 million barrels of oil every single day, for many decades, which is far from insignificant.

Won't drilling hurt Republicans politically?

Not likely.

A recent poll showed that 53% of Americans support the drilling. As the price of gasoline rises and the world's demand for fossil fuels rises, driving up American dependence on foreign sources of energy, it seems readily apparent that the United States ought to use the resources we have here at home.


Ultimately, this is the tiny part of Alaska that will be used for drilling, and when environmental groups work themselves into a lather over something like this, they really just look foolish:




How many times can the far left cry wolf on environmental matters before the general public begins to completely ignore their cries?

National Review's Jonah Goldberg has more on the desolation of ANWR, including pictures like this one:
Click picture for more.

Ben Lieberman of The Heritage Foundation explains that drilling in ANWR is long overdue:

ANWR alone will not dramatically bring down the global price of oil, but it will help more than any other single measure within the federal government’s control. Perhaps more importantly, it would signal a real shift in Washington’s approach to energy. For the past decade or more, the federal government has been a hindrance rather than a help in expanding America’s domestic energy supply. Opening ANWR would be the federal government’s first major pro-energy measure in many years and would be a real sign that Washington is finally ready to start addressing the nation’s future energy needs.

Also: Right Wing News explains that we can learn a lot about the priorities of conservatives and liberals by watching their reaction to ANWR.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 March 2005 05:00 PM


Great take on opening ANWR. Enviros are not interested in responsible policy - they want to shut down energy development in numerous places, and especially in ANWR. One of their favorite tactics is to identify wildlife which they claim will be affected by development. Good recap of the actual area to be affected and nice review of the issues.

Posted by: responsible oilman at March 16, 2005 07:55 PM

The thing that gets me is that polls treat this as a yes or no question. It is "should we drill that oil" rather than "should we drill now?"

I really think our children and grandchildren will need that oil more than us, and it is just greedy to grab it now.

Which oil fields, exactly, are we setting aside for our children?

Posted by: jjens at March 18, 2005 11:03 AM

BTW, I think the handwaving that people sometimes do, to name future technologies that we might develop, is just that. Handwaving.

We've been working on tar sands, oil shale, whatever for 30 years (since the fuel crisis 70's) and we still can't make them work. It's just BS to pretend that they are ready "for the kids."

Posted by: jjens at March 18, 2005 11:05 AM

The thing I don't understand is that a growth in the population of caribou means that the ecosystem of the refuge is being thrown out of balance..

If you're trying to pull at animal lover's heartstrings with stories of cold caribou snuggling up to an oil pipe to get warm and make love to get support for your political agenda, just say so.

Nature has a way of making things right (or wrong) and as cute as caribou are, an overpopulation of them is going to lead to longer term problems for the refuge.

So can you please stop saying that the oil fields will have no impact, when the obvious impact is going to be a higher caribou population?

Posted by: Jesse at March 18, 2005 11:46 AM


That, my friend, is just one reason why Americans are allowed to have guns. Oil field people are natural hunters. If the caribou herds are really becoming too large of a strain on the ecosystem, it's a perfect match.

Posted by: Will Franklin at March 18, 2005 11:53 AM