Yeatman Unpacks Flawed ANWR Objections

Today Congress considers a tax bill which contains a provision for drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), an area debated over for drilling purposes for the past 30 plus years.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s William Yeatman, a senior fellow, offered this perspective on opponents to the provision to allow ANWR drilling:

“Given the potential for wealth creation and the overwhelming support of Alaskans, you would think congressional approval of ANWR drilling would be a no-brainer. The large untapped amount of oil there would provide affordable energy and economic growth for Americans. But we continue to find opposition to ANWR drilling. Why?

“For years, environmentalists hung their hat on the supposed harm drilling would bring to caribou in the region; unfortunately for green special interests, time proved this talking point untrue, as caribou populations grew while drilling occurred on the adjacent Prudhoe Bay. As it became increasingly clear that drilling did not harm caribou, environmentalists abandoned this point—that’s why you don’t hear about caribous anymore.

“Now, ANWR opponents have adopted a new set of talking points, claiming that we shouldn’t drill in ANWR because the price of oil is too low. This suggests that if the price was right, they would support drilling. Out of the other side of their mouths, environmentalists claim that any drilling is unacceptable, because it would contribute to supposedly catastrophic climate change. But, if greens are dead-set against ANWR drilling as a matter of climate change, then they wouldn’t support drilling no matter the price of oil.

“The take-away is that ANWR opponents are not arguing in good faith. By stark contrast to the reasoning of ANWR opposition, drilling is supported overwhelmingly by citizens of the state – 78 percent in fact, as well as by the Governor, state legislature, and the entire congressional delegation. Should Congress, elected to represent the people, side with those who locally are experts and support the initiative or environmental activists whose talking points fall under even the slightest scrutiny?”