Should ANWR become a part of the nation’s strategic reserves?

ANWR is not a sustainable energy option

Teresa Combs

From the mouth of the man who spoke of a bridge to replace a seven-minute ferry ride to Ketchikan, and who referred to the “Internets” as “series of tubes,” 84-year-old Ted Stevens has also flapped his lips in defense of opening up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

But the solution for the fluctuating severity of oil crises should not be to continue drilling, especially in fragile ecosystems.

In 1998, the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that there is a potential of at least 5.7 billion barrels of oil under the ANWR area, possibly more. This reserve could serve the country, according to the estimate, for anywhere from 12-32 years. But then what?

The time, manpower and energy that would need to be dedicated to surveying the area, testing it, preserving it and draining it could better be channeled into researching and supporting alternative methods that would have limitless possibility for renewable and reproducible energy. While our oil usage at this very moment may not affect us immediately, what will we leave behind after those 32 years when we’ve used up most of what remains of this limited source?

It is not being suggested that we completely sacrifice all of our dependence on oil so soon, as that isn’t completely feasible now. But we can at the very least focus on reducing our oil consumption where it affects us the most. We have the knowledge and ability to eliminate a huge consumer of our natural oil so that we will be able to rectify the impending crisis and learn to control what little we have left.

Entrepreneurs have created hybrids for cars and made the ability for a diesel engine to run on used vegetable oil. With this engineering spirit, there are so many possibilities available that can have endless benefits without hurting our environment more than we already have. We must be aware, and we must have backup plans. Reliance on only one major resource without acknowledging alternatives is ignorance.

Perhaps Stevens, a prominent public servant who has had many years to his name, could stop relying on aging ideas that only have an immediate gratification with no regard to the future. He needs to encourage and embrace the technology that others have pioneered.

- Advertisement -

Don’t think about what money it could bring to the state or economy in the now, but focus on what is more important. Whatever we decide at this moment, future generations will have to deal with its repercussions. Let us take that step now to produce these possibilities instead of forcing our drills into virgin land.

Opening ANWR will reduce dependence

Kelly McLain

There have been several failed attempts in Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during the past three decades, and it is in the spotlight once again, after President Bush called for expanding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by continuing to buy foreign oil at ridiculous prices for the next 20 years.

U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens has recently backed a new approach to opening ANWR by using its reserves as part of the nation’s emergency stockpile of oil. The stockpile now holds about 700 million barrels of federally owned oil stored for a national emergency. Instead of expanding the strategic reserve to regions outside the U.S., the idea proposed is for Congress to lease oil from Alaska for a certain amount of time, after which the state would be able to sell it.

It’s no secret that Stevens has received harsh criticism for his actions in the Senate and his infamous “series of tubes” metaphor. But the consequences of the U.S. relying on foreign oil are something we can all consider.

Past attempts to open ANWR have been based on prospective production. ANWR is a 19 million acre refuge in the northeast region of Alaska. A great concern for environmentalists is the impact of drilling in the arctic region. Oil fields in Prudhoe Bay have spent millions of dollars on research to ensure that the wildlife and oil field facilities can coexist with as little disruption as possible.

By all means, I don’t think we should neglect the consequences. We should be concerned about the impact on the environment and the project’s feasibility to maintain carefully planned development and environmental protection.

But aside from the concern about the caribou, our nation’s energy security is at stake.

Let’s face it. Oil production is necessary to sustain our rapidly growing and competitive country, which is in desperate need of natural resources. The U.S. has long been more dependent on foreign oil than on our own. The solution is that we have a reliable emergency stockpile, and ANWR is a worthy candidate. We shouldn’t have to rely on billions of dollars’ worth of foreign oil when we could be using our country’s own resources.

This new approach to ANWR is a creative compromise for our nation’s emergency stockpile. There would need to be equitable means for estimating the amount of oil thought to be available and the payment to Alaska for it.

This is a matter of securing our nation’s emergency stockpile with resources available in Alaska, by becoming self-sufficient. Opening ANWR as a strategic reserve is a necessity for our nation’s security.