Senate Should Approve Oil Exploration in Arctic

Contact: Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273

Washington, D.C., March 15, 2005—The Competitive Enterprise Institute urges the Senate this week to retain provisions in budget reconciliation legislation that would open a small part of Alaska’s immense Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. 

“The time to open ANWR has arrived,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming & International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Between the production decline of other domestic oil fields and the development of new, low-impact drilling methods, making ANWR’s potentially enormous reserves available is in the national interest.”

The mean U.S. Geological Survey estimate for recoverable reserves under ANWR’s coastal plain is equivalent to thirty years of oil imports from Saudi Arabia, America’s largest foreign supplier.

Moreover, though opposed by environmental pressure groups, oil and gas exploration in ANWR would have little environmental impact on the coastal plain ecosystem.  Only 8 percent of ANWR’s 19 million acres is being considered for development.  And if a major oil discovery is made, the legislation requires that no more than 2000 acres could be disturbed by production facilities. 

“Increasing domestic production by making ANWR’s reserves available is an important part of a pro-consumer energy policy,” Ebell said. “Unlike some exploration opponents who think we need to starve the nation’s appetite for energy, more members of the Senate are realizing that making energy plentiful and affordable is the real path to continuing prosperity.”