Republicans want us to believe that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be of benefit to the economy and reduce oil dependence. It's simply not true. What it is, is more of the same old, same old, Bush Corporate Cronyism. (Kerry talked about this briefly yesterday, in his speech at Brown University.)
Here is the text of John Kerry’s remarks today, as prepared for delivery:
I would like to start this afternoon by thanking all of you for making the journey to Washington and for having the dedication to come all the way to Congress with your message about the importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling -- a policy we should not be pursuing through backdoor efforts. In fact, we shouldn’t be doing this at all.
There’s been a lot said about the Arctic Refuge during this debate. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge can be done in an environmentally-friendly manner. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge will bring gas prices down at the pump. And we’ve even heard that drilling in the Refuge belongs in the national budget because of the revenues from the lease sales.
Now I’m going to tell you why each one of these arguments is false.
By definition, an industrial zone and wilderness cannot occupy the same space. In 1960, the Eisenhower administration first recognized the extraordinary wilderness value of the area, and the Arctic Refuge was established to protect its unique wildlife and landscape. Building a massive oil field in the Refuge would clearly violate this fundamental purpose.
Drilling proponents claim they would open only 2,000 acres to the oil corporations, but in fact the entire 1.5 million acre “1002 area” would be opened to leasing and exploration.
Oil companies want you to think that whatever oil may be found in the Refuge is in one compact area. But, as with the North Slope oil fields west of the Arctic Refuge, development would sprawl over a very large area and stretch across the coastal plain.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, potential oil under the coastal plain is not concentrated in one large reservoir, but is spread across the coastal plain in many small deposits. To produce oil from this vast area, networks of pipelines and roads will be built and will the habitat of the entire coastal plain.
It is true that new drilling technology is more efficient and less harmful to the environment, but its advantages have been exaggerated. Even new technology, like directional drilling, will do irrevocable damage to the Refuge. Permanent gravel roads and busy airports are still used for access, and production wells scattered across more than a million acres of coastal plain must be connected by pipelines. And the entire complex would produce more air pollution than the City of Washington.
No matter how well done, oil development has significant and lasting impacts on the environment. The industry itself has admitted as much. None other than BP has said, “We can’t develop fields and keep wilderness.”
And if the facts and the frank admission of an oil company isn’t enough, my colleagues should know that the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Interior and many others have all made the same conclusion.
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