Open ANWR Now to Oil Exploration

Washington, DC, September 20, 2005—Will Congress finally make the right decision this fall and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration?  The Competitive Enterprise Institute supports the opening of ANWR to increase domestic oil production and help ensure that Americans continue to have abundant supplies of energy.

“Since 1987, environmental pressure groups have blocked every attempt to open ANWR with a collection of bogus arguments, false claims, and irrelevant facts,” said Myron Ebell, director of global warming policy at CEI.  “The damage done by Hurricane Katrina to America’s energy supplies should cause Americans to look more closely at the facts.”

Contrary to claims by many opponents of oil production in ANWR, the coastal plain is not pristine wilderness.  The Brooks Range and designated wilderness areas are far to the south.  The coastal plain contains former military installations and the Inupiat village of Kaktovik.  The people of Kaktovik officially support oil exploration.  Polls regularly show that 70 percent of Alaskans also support it.

Oil production at Prudhoe Bay has not harmed the caribou herd or led to significant environmental harm. Advances in oil production technology mean that pumping oil in ANWR will pose even fewer environmental risks.  The legislation passed by the House and Senate limits disturbances to the ground to 2,000 acres in the 19 million acre refuge.

“Environmental pressure groups have also claimed that ANWR contains very little oil and natural gas,” continued Ebell. “The U. S Geological Survey’s best estimate is 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.  That is equivalent to about 30 years of imports from Saudi Arabia, one of our major foreign suppliers. And if the experience of Prudhoe Bay is any guide, there could be much more oil under the coastal plain. The USGS estimated 7 billion barrels at Prudhoe Bay. They have now pumped 13 billion barrels and are still pumping.”

While the energy bill that passed Congress in July did not include exploration in ANWR, a provision to do that is being included in the budget reconciliation bill, which will be finalized this fall.