Gulf Spill Confirms Need for Alaska Drilling

Thursday, 10 Jun 2010 02:42 PM

By Ralph Hostetter

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The United States should not be drilling for oil at depths up to 5,000 feet on the ocean floor and thus assuming the enormous risks that such ventures present and now have been realized catastrophically.

This nation should be drilling for oil on land within our enormous reserves in such places as Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

A description of ANWR published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill follows:

“ANWR has its beginnings in 1923 when 23 million acres of land were set aside as an oil reserve for national security. This reserve was known as the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4, which later would be called the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. During the Second World War, this northeastern region of Alaska was used exclusively for military purposes. In 1952-53 a group of scientists released 'The Last Great Wilderness.' This article released findings that had been made that concluded that the northeastern corner of Alaska would be ideal for a wildlife protection area. As a response to this report, the U.S. government decided to create two distinct areas in northeastern Alaska. The North Slope area along Prudhoe Bay was set aside for oil and gas production. This was in addition to the original National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska area. The second area was an 8.9-million-acre wildlife reserve in the coastal plain region of Northeastern Alaska. This area became the Arctic National Wildlife Range, later called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. After vast amounts of oil were found in Prudhoe Bay, attempts at opening up the protected wildlife refuge were begun. However, in 1980 the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act was passed. This act increased the size of the reserve to 19 million acres total. Specifically, it set aside 8 million acres for wilderness areas, 9.5 million acres for a wildlife refuge, and 1.5 million acres for a Coastal Plain Study Area. This 1.5-million-acre study area was designated under section 1002 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This specific section of the wildlife reserve is where the current controversy is occurring.”

Of ANWR's 1.5-million-acre study area, only 2,000 acres would be required for the multibillion-barrel bounty that awaits development. To deny the use of only 2,000 acres out of 19 million acres in the ANWR's total acreage, amounting to one one-hundredth of one percent (0.0001), is tantamount to environmental overkill.

This environmental extremism should not be permitted to drive the nation to the sea and thus create the greatest man-made environmental disaster in history. This defeats every principle that the so-called environmental movement says it stands for.

There are other areas in the Arctic that are habitat to a number of herds of caribou that accommodate human activity with no apparent conflict.

One example is exploration and development of the North Slope oil fields, 80 miles west of ANWR which show no detrimental effects on caribou. In fact, the central Arctic caribou herd which uses the area has increased fivefold in population since oil development began in the early 1970s.

Arctic Power published in Anchorage, Alaska, reports that biologists have been unable to document any adverse effect of oil (exploration) on caribou herds and that all of the North Slope's caribou herds, including the Porcupine Herd, are thriving.

Development of oil reserves in the Coastal Plain of ANWR could create as many as 736,000 jobs, according to an economic analysis by Wharton Econometrics Forecasting Associates (WEFA).

Resource estimates derived from results of the 1998 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) of ANWR’s petroleum potential reveal that ANWR contains undiscovered resource volumes of 5.7 to 16 billion barrels of crude oil. The expected value is 10.4 billion barrels.

These estimates do not include any prospective effects of future technological change and are therefore likely to be more conservative.

Estimated recovery from Prudhoe Bay was initially projected to be 35 percent, but new technology applied since that time has progressed steadily, and recovery is now expected to exceed 65 percent.

The world has become more and more dependent on the oil it receives from beneath the sea.

Talk of moratoriums or denial of leases for offshore drilling is disturbing. Oil recovered from offshore drilling represents some 30 percent of the total U.S. production of 1.2 billion barrels per year.

E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by e-mail sent to eralphhostetter@yahoo.com.




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