Wednesday, March 02, 2005

ANWR: The Gloves Are Off

Last night I wrote about the GOPs’ plan to sneak drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into the budget reconciliation in the coming weeks. Thanks to “Mass” for giving me the heads up on this wonderful editorial in Outside Magazine from John Kerry on ANWR. Kerry has been a longtime foe of drilling in ANWR and one of our country’s greatest environmental activists throughout his entire career.

The Gloves Are Off
An ANWR defeat would deal a major blow to the entire concept of wilderness protection. In this exclusive essay, Senator JOHN KERRY vows to take the fight to the GOP leadership.
By John Kerry

Ask yourself: What if a Republican named Theodore Roosevelt hadn't helped write conservation into our national character? What if our march to progress and modernity had meant the step-by-step stripping, mining, and development of every inch of territory from coast to coast?



Blogger Ron Chusid said...

Should oil drilling be allowed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?; In the days following the attacks of Sept Facts Don't Support Foes of Drilling

Roll Call; 2/11/2002; Rep. Don Young; Sen. John Kerry

Roll Call


Should oil drilling be allowed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?; In the days following the attacks of Sept Facts Don't Support Foes of Drilling
Byline: Rep. Don Young; Sen. John Kerry

Alaska's North Slope is a great place to look for oil. It has supplied 20 percent of America's domestic oil for the past 20 years. The largest oil fields in America are found there, including our largest and second-largest fields, Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk. America's most promising prospects are also on the North Slope, in the 1002 region, an area about the size of Delaware (1.5 million acres). The 1002 region forms the northern edge of the 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Congressional approval is necessary before oil-and-gas development can proceed.

Environmental activists oppose oil development within 1002. They base their case on 99 percent fact-free rhetoric. As Tom Knudson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Sacramento Bee, noted in a recent examination of Green tactics, "Those who know the environment best - the scientists who devote their careers to it - say environmental groups often twist fact into fantasy to serve their agendas."
Environmentalists say that 95 percent of the North Slope is open to drilling. Even if this were the case, it is irrelevant. Oil fields are relatively small areal features, and they are unevenly distributed within a region. Ninety-five percent of a region's oil reserves could be in the 5 percent closed to development.

Greens say there is little or no oil in 1002, or that production will amount to a six-month supply at most. Like the rest of their rhetoric, these statements are contradicted by fact. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 1002 most likely contains 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, with a 95 percent chance that there are at least 5.7 billion barrels and a 5 percent chance that there are more than 16 billion barrels. This is enough oil to significantly increase, perhaps even double, current U.S. oil reserves.

Environmental activists talk about "economically" recoverable oil, but everyone else uses estimates of technically recoverable oil. For new fields, estimates of technically recoverable oil are generally conservative. Oil companies almost always recover more oil from a field than originally estimated. For example, the initial reserve estimate for Alaska's Prudhoe Bay field was 9.6 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, based on a recovery factor of about 40 percent. This field has now produced more than originally estimated, and eventual recovery is expected to exceed 65 percent, or 15 billion barrels. There is no reason to expect that 1002 will be any different.

Petroleum geologists believe there is a very good chance of finding more than enough oil in 1002 to support a daily production rate of 1 million barrels. This amount of oil could replace about 10 percent of current U.S. daily imports. Furthermore, an existing pipeline, less than 60 miles away, has enough spare capacity to carry an additional million barrels of oil per day. Certainly, USGS estimates indicate that a production rate of 1 million barrels a day is well within reach. Yet the Greens say that 1002 has little or no oil. What do you believe? The judgment of those who have spent their lives studying and finding oil fields or the fact-free rhetoric of environmental activists?

Greens insist that if oil development is allowed, 1002 will turn into a sprawling industrial zone requiring vast networks of roads and pipelines that would fragment the habitat, disturbing and displacing wildlife. Somehow they neglect to explain why oil companies would build a vast infrastructure if little or no oil is present.

Today's advanced technology has reduced the footprint of oil development by almost 90 percent. More than 50 wells can now be drilled from one small gravel pad. These wells can tap oil accumulations up to 5 miles away. Due to this new technology, development in 1002 would look like Alpine, the North Slope's newest field. Utilizing techniques such as directional drilling and winter ice roads that melt in the spring, Alpine is a minimalist work of human ingenuity and environmental sensitivity. A single, compact 95- acre production pad contains all support facilities and oil wells. More than 420 million barrels of oil will be produced from this pad. Using similar technology, development in Delaware-size 1002 would require about 20 Alpine-type production pads.

Environmentalists say oil development is a dire threat to caribou. They also predicted doomsday for caribou if the Trans Alaska Pipeline was built. Caribou herds would be decimated because they would not cross the pipeline to go to their wintering areas. In reality, the caribou herd around Prudhoe Bay has increased fivefold since oil development. Scientific data simply do not show that oil development has significantly impacted North Slope wildlife. Poetic sound bites, scare tactics and Hollywood dramatizations are no substitute for sound science.

Perhaps the most misleading tactic of the Greens is their use of the Gwich'in Indians to deceive people into believing that there is strong native opposition to oil development in 1002. The Gwich'in are not indigenous to the North Slope. Their region is located in the United States and Canada, more than 100 miles to the south, on the other side of the Continental Divide. The Greens never mention the Inupiat Eskimos, who are indigenous to the Arctic Coastal Plain. The only settlement within 1002 is Kaktovik, an Inupiat village. The Greens never ask the Inupiat what they think.

The Inupiat support oil development. They have lived with the oil industry for the past 25 years, and it has had a dramatic impact on them. Oil has created a modern economy on the North Slope. Inupiat children once had to leave home to attend high school hundreds of miles away, resulting in the breakup of families. Now, tax revenue and income from oil means that the Inupiat have their own schools as well as health clinics, decent homes, roads and water supplies.

Listen to Tara Sweeney, a young Inupiat mother:

"We are fighting for our right to self-determination, the right to educate our children, become productive members of society - independent of government programs - the right to healthy living conditions and local health care."

1002 could hold North America's largest oil field. Oil development in 1002 is a critical component of an energy policy that guarantees energy security for America. We can achieve energy security without being self-sufficient in oil production, but we cannot achieve energy security without using America's substantial domestic energy sources, such as oil in 1002, to reduce the amount of oil we buy from foreign oil cartels.

In October 2001, America imported more than 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Iraq. Oil revenues are used by Saddam Hussein to support terrorist acts against the United States. What do you think is most likely to increase America's energy security? Prohibiting oil development in 1002 based on fact-free Green rhetoric, or developing this oil to replace the supply we are now buying from Saddam Hussein? Let us make the smart choice for America and allow oil development in 1002.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) is a member of the Resources Committee.

Don't Use U.S. Security As Reason to Drill Refuge

In the days following the attacks of Sept. 11, consumers reported cases of price gouging when they drove in to gas stations to fill up their cars. Some consumers even reported the price of gasoline soaring to $5 a gallon. Even as millions of Americans pulled together, a few cynics hoped to profit from a shocked and apprehensive public.

Today there is a different kind of opportunism at work in our nation's capital. Under the guise of national security and economic stimulus, some want to scare Americans into drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Destroying a wildlife refuge won't make America any safer. There must be a better definition of patriotism than tapping public anxiety to pass bad public policy. Now is a time to summon our nation's hopes and strengths, not a time to play on its fears. And in doing what is right for America's security, we can provide what the oil industry can't: good-paying jobs for the long term for American workers.

What is needed in a debate too often characterized by an instinct for the symbolic is truth. America does face serious energy challenges. Our dependence on oil makes us susceptible to price spikes, entangles us in distant disputes and puts our military in harm's way. And oil money surely funds terrorism. But drilling in the Arctic refuge won't change any of this.

Those who insist on portraying drilling in the Arctic refuge as an urgent matter of national security do a disservice to the American people. Arguing that the wildlife refuge may produce as much oil as we import from Saudi Arabia - home to patrons of terrorism and a potentially unreliable exporter - is simply false. Under even the most optimistic scenario in which the refuge would produce 1 million barrels per day starting in 2020, we and the world will continue to buy billions of dollars of oil from Saudi Arabia.

Drilling in the refuge is also incorrectly characterized as a matter of economic security. Proponents cite a 10-year-old report funded by the American Petroleum Institute that predicted drilling will create more than 700,000 jobs. This claim is based largely on that has been contradicted by independent assessments, including one from the Congressional Research Service. More likely, drilling will create a tiny fraction of the jobs predicted by the oil industry. And most important, it won't help lift the economy out of recession.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge won't make Americans safer and won't make our economy stronger. We can't drill our way to national or economic security. But neither can we stand by and merely condemn shortsighted policy proposals. Americans deserve - and our national security and economic needs demand - an energy policy for the future.

Our only long-term answer, however, is to promote true energy independence, and to do so requires innovation. During World War II, America printed a poster with the banner INVENT FOR VICTORY. The nation must once again be challenged to make innovation a weapon in our national defense, investing in a Manhattan Project that accelerates the development of breakthrough technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells, which hold the greatest promise to revolutionize our energy system. Fuel-cell technology to power cars, trucks, buses, ships and trains exists today. The challenge is making these means of transportation affordable and deploying them throughout the economy.

Making this mission a success will lead to a safer America. It will also make us more prosperous. America can create more jobs by investing in efficient and renewable energy technologies than by investing in oil. The Tellus Institute estimates that 900,000 jobs can be created from investments in efficient transportation. The Energy and Resources Group at the University of California estimates that generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources will bring about more than 2 million new jobs - good jobs designing, machining, manufacturing, distributing, building and maintaining a domestic energy system.

Honesty must drive a comprehensive energy plan for the nation; drilling, conservation, efficiency or renewable energy will not bring immediate national or economic security. There are no easy answers. The country needs to increase domestic oil production, but given its limited benefits, we should expand production in an environmentally sound manner, protecting the wildlife refuge but exploring the more than 25 million undeveloped acres of the Gulf of Mexico open for drilling today. We can also reduce our dependence on oil and susceptibility to price spikes through efficiency: making our transportation system more efficient by investing in fuel-efficient cars, rail and public transit, and diversifying our fuel base, particularly in the transportation sector, by relying more on natural gas, especially in commercial and government vehicles. We should also press ahead aggressively with domestic renewable fuels, like biomass ethanol.

But just as the war on terrorism tests American resolve, so too must we be prepared for a long and sustained effort in changing our energy policy. It's time to call on America's strength, ingenuity, creativity and invention, to open a new front in the war on terrorism, and to support it with a national effort that rivals President John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon. Rather than put false hopes in largely symbolic acts like drilling in the Arctic refuge, a real marketplace for renewable energy must be created to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and prepare us for a different - and far less predictable - geopolitical landscape. It's time we put Americans to work in that important effort.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)is a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

9:38 AM  

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