CEI supports policies that will bring affordable and abundant energy to American consumers. Therefore, we are pleased to join many other organizations in the Energy Stewardship Alliance and to show our support for opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.
The debate over ANWR has been going on for decades now. At every point, the opponents of opening ANWR have confused the public with misinformation and baseless claims. As the Congress once again prepares to consider legislation to allow exploration in the coastal plain, I hope that this coalition can help to set the record straight.
Contrary to the endless assertions of the environmental pressure groups:
1. Oil production has not caused major environmental problems at Prudhoe Bay. The advanced technology that will be used in ANWR poses even fewer threats to the environment.
2. The coastal plain is not a pristine wilderness. It includes settlements and military installations. It also includes land owned by the local Inupiat inhabitants. They would therefore benefit if oil and gas were discovered.
3. Oil and gas production will not destroy the wilderness. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is 19 million acres. The coastal plain is 1.5 million acres. Production will only disturb a few thousand acres.
4. The potential reserves are not insignificant. In fact, the US Geological Survey estimates range between huge and enormous.
5. The current energy crisis cannot be solved solely through conservation, renewable energy, and alternative technologies. Americans want abundant and affordable energy. Economic growth requires more energy. New forms of energy and new technologies may help in the long term, but expanding supplies of petroleum and natural gas are essential in the short to medium term.
6. Opening ANWR will help to relieve our current energy shortages. The argument against opening ANWR on the grounds that no oil will start to flow for a decade is foolish and short-sighted. The decision to allow oil and gas exploration in the coastal plain will have an immediate effect on world oil markets and on the plans of our major foreign suppliers.
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