Oil and ANWR

by Beacon Staff • September 28, 2005

Sadly, despite its beauty and seclusion, 95 percent of Alaska's vast, petroleum-filled North Slope is already available for oil and gas exploration and leasing, according to Artic Refuge Action.With Hurricane Katrina, and more recently Hurricane Rita, affecting the oil drilling along the Gulf of Mexico, coupled with the escalating oil prices, the Bush Administration has been propagandizing our further need to delve into the Arctic.,"Nestled between the Brooks Mountain Range and the shores of the Beaufort Sea in remote northeast Alaska lays one of America's last wildlife refuges. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a 19 million-acre area, houses one of the world's most expansive and wild natural treasures. Not only home to one of the oldest Native American tribes, the Gwich'in, but also to polar bears, wolves and musk oxen, Alaska's Wildlife Refuge protects more diversity in wildlife than any other refuge in the world. The calving ground for the Porcupine River, a coastal plain for breeding and the nestling and migratory stopover of more than 180 species of birds, this pristine habitat services the survival of thousands of animals in the Arctic.

Sadly, despite its beauty and seclusion, 95 percent of Alaska's vast, petroleum-filled North Slope is already available for oil and gas exploration and leasing, according to Artic Refuge Action.With Hurricane Katrina, and more recently Hurricane Rita, affecting the oil drilling along the Gulf of Mexico, coupled with the escalating oil prices, the Bush Administration has been propagandizing our further need to delve into the Arctic.

Don't let these events, however, convince you that opening up the Arctic will solve our nation's energy problems. According to Arctic Refuge Action, America doesn't use half of the oil it sits on. Instead, it still depends on the Middle East for oil production.

In addition, government experts at the U.S. Geological Survey estimate there may be only 3.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil, which will provide us less than six months worth of oil at our current consumption rate. Once the drilling begins, it will take almost 10 years to bring the oil to market; thus, drilling would not lower domestic oil prices, reduce oil dependence or create new permanent jobs, according to the Sierra Club.

Entering the Arctic for a few barrels of oil will not service America in any way. According to the Energy Information Agency, our nation consumes 19.2 million barrels of oil daily and more than half of imports come from the Persian Gulf.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Americans consume 25 percent of the world's oil when we have only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves-a fact that may well be attributed to bigger cars, greater energy deficient products and excess heating.

Destroying acres of inhabited and priceless lands will not put a dent in our dependence upon foreign oil, will do nothing to strengthen our national security and will not save consumers a dime. The Bush Administration will try to use Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to invade and pillage the lands of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, which we cannot allow to happen. The preservation of this land is owed to the generations that follow us. If we continue to tear apart the earth from coast to coast, further disasters will await us in the future.

The Earth is renewable. If human beings continue to exploit its resources without consequence or remorse, our planet will strike back and destroy all that is left. Oil drilling does not only devastate the land and the species that thrive upon it, but also, in turn, pollutes the air and the water that all the inhabitants of the world need for survival. The destruction of one wildlife refuge affects the whole world because ecosystems are tightly connected and if one is diminished, others will follow.

Instead of relying on non-renewable resources, why not use our vast knowledge and technology to enhance and discover new uses for those energy sources that are renewable and right at our fingertips? By using sun and wind energy, America could work to build a clean energy economy. Not only should we work to produce new methods, but we should also increase our "energy efficiency" by improving our current use of energy. This way we would eliminate the need for power plants and drilling.

If we combine the use of renewable sources and fuel efficiency, there would be no reason to depend upon fossil fuels in the future. In addition, the production of new energy sources will not cause job shortages for those currently working in the oil industry, but rather create 1.4 million new American jobs while saving consumers the $1,275 they spend on energy bills, as reported by the United Steel Workers Union.

The Bush Administration has no excuse for entering the Arctic Refuge when the answer to dangerous dependence on oil lays within the natural processes of Mother Earth.

So rather than destroy the livelihood of precious species and habitats, Congress should take steps to ensure our clean and safe future, independent of oil and foreign countries.

"

[gallery]