Contact: Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273
Washington, D.C., December 20, 2005—As gas prices remain above two dollars a gallon and most Americans are looking at sky-high heating bills this winter, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urges the U. S. Senate to pass legislation that would open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil and gas exploration.
“The ANWR provision in the defense appropriations bill is the only legislation currently before the Senate that would address America's long-term energy needs. Authorization for opening ANWR has already passed both the House and the Senate this year,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming & International Environmental Policy at CEI.
“Senate Majority Leader Frist should keep the Senate in session as long as it takes to gain cloture on the defense appropriations bill and enact the ANWR provision,” Ebell continued. “If Senator Frist is unwilling to disrupt Senators' holiday plans, then President Bush should use his constitutional authority to call them back into session.”
“The American people are looking for long-term policies that will increase our energy supplies and make energy more affordable,” said Ebell. “The Senate should stop listening to an obstructionist minority who think that energy prices are not high enough and vote to open ANWR now.”
“Environmental groups have spread misinformation about ANWR for years. Their latest soundbite is to claim that this is a payoff to big oil companies. That is the exact opposite of the truth. Any oil produced will be subject to a 12 1/2 % royalty paid to the federal Treasury and the State of Alaska,” Ebell continued. "Compare those royalty payments to the vast array of federal subsidies paid by tax dollars for alternative energy sources favored by the environmental movement.”
The legislation already passed by the House will limit oil and gas drilling to disturbing 2000 acres in the 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain, which is not a Wilderness Area. No drilling will be permitted in the vast areas of the 19 million acre refuge that have been designated as Wilderness Areas. According to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, the amount of economically recoverable oil in ANWR will increase America's proven reserves by approximately fifty percent, which is equivalent to thirty years of current imports from Saudi Arabia, one of the nation’s biggest foreign suppliers.
There is strong support among Alaskans for opening ANWR. Polls consistently show that three quarters of Alaskans in support. The Inuit village of Kaktovik, in Alaska’s Coastal Plain, also officially supports oil and gas exploration. “Alaskans put a high value on protecting the natural splendors of their State, and they support opening the Coastal Plain because they know that the advanced technology now being used to produce oil will not harm the caribou herds or damage the environment. Oil has been pumped at Prudhoe Bay west of ANWR for three decades using 1970s technology and the caribou herd there has increased from 6,000 to 32,000,” said CEI Adjunct Scholar R.J. Smith.