Oil Drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge
The main issue presented in my research involves the debate between environmentalists and the United States government on whether to open and develop a portion of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in the northern coastal plain of Alaska for the purpose of drilling for oil. Environmentalists argue that opening up this region of ANWR to future oil drilling would destroy the current ecosystems, disrupt animal habitats and adversely change the lives of the people in these local communities. Proponents of oil drilling in this region argue that all the issues presented by the environmentalist groups are not valid and they have no scientific facts to support their argument. Proponents of this issue point to the successful Prudhoe Bay oil exploration, which has produced nearly 13 billion barrels, or, 20 to 25 percent of the oil produced in the United States for the last 23 years. President George Bush recently indicated that he is renewing his campaign to open part of the Artic refuge to oil exploration, contending that oil drilling is essential to the national security of the United States and would create jobs on a national and local level. George Bush supported his campaign by stating in a recent article “America is already using more energy then our domestic resources can provide and unless we act to increase our energy independence, our reliance of foreign sources of energy will only increase.” (w1) He also indicated from the same article saying “Alaskans know firsthand that modern technology allows us to bring oil to the surface cleanly and safely, while protecting our environment and wildlife.” (w2) His proposed energy plan also includes modernizing other energy delivery systems and developing new fuel- efficient technologies, such as hydrogen powered cars.
The Presidents proposed energy plan appears to address the issues that environmentalist are strongly opposed. These areas of concern to environmentalist include: (1) The protection of the Porcupine caribou herd, polar bears, musk oxen, grizzly bears and many other forms of diverse wildlife that could be adversely affected by the oil exploration. (2) Preservation of the land itself and the local communities culture that has supported a thousand generations of native Alaskans. (3) That there is only enough oil in this region to supply America’s needs for six months. The environmentalist and the proponents for oil drilling continue to pursue their arguments, each one deciding that their argument is more popular to the American people.
The history of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge can be traced back to 1960. On December 6th, the Eisenhower administration signed Public Land order No. 2214 which established the 8.9 million acre Artic National Wildlife range. In 1980, Congress passed and Jimmy Carter signed the landmark Alaska National Interest Lands Conservative Act (ANILCA) that increased the protected...