Senate Should Vote for Affordable Energy

Contact: Richard Morrison, 202-331-2273

Washington, D.C., March 16, 2006—As the U.S. Senate considers an important budget resolution, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urges Senators to retain and approve a provision 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 budget resolution is the only legislation currently before the Senate that would address America’s long-term energy needs.  Authorization for opening ANWR passed both the House and the Senate last year,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Energy Policy at CEI.

The legislation would limit drilling to 2,000 acres in the 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain. No drilling will be permitted in the vast 19 million acre refuge that has been designated as a Wilderness Area. 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.

“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.”

There is strong support among Alaskans for opening ANWR; polls consistently show three quarters of Alaskans in support. “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 damage the environment,” said CEI Adjunct Scholar R.J. Smith. “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.”