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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why a Tree Hugger Like Me Thinks the US Should Drill in ANWR


I gave a speech yesterday, and the topic was about Drilling in ANWR. Even the Dems in the room said they were impressed!

Keep in mind these are speech notes and I didn't thoroughly check spelling / grammar / sentence fragments!!! So unlike me!

Oil –

What did you pay for gas this week? We are up to $3.05 per gallon and they are paying $3.25 in Pa. (where they have to actually get OUT of the car and pump it themselves!!!!)

Speech title: Why a tree hugger like me thinks the US should drill in ANWR

ANWR stands for Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. It covers an area about the size of the of SC about 19+ million acres. Many environmentalists are fiercely opposed to drilling for oil there, as I once was. Here’s a paragraph from a column of the Minneapolis Star tribune dated march 2000

“…should Americans be willing to scatter oil wells across the last pristine sector of Alaska’s north coast, a fragile landscape of harsh beauty and critical significance to hundreds of species in the arctic ecosystem, one of the last big places on the continent where human presence is undetectable? If so, perhaps we should prepare for the post-petroleum era by planning to build hydroelectric dams in the Grand Canyon and to log the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for stove wood.”



Sounds like a reasonable argument except for some pesky facts that get in the way. While The area that will be explored for possible oil covers about 1.5 Million acres or about 8% of the reserve, the actual drilling of the oil itself, once oil is located, will be approximately 2000 acres – not “oil wells scattered across the Alaska coast”. To put that in perspective, it’s an area about the size of Newark Airport. I even read one analogy that said that if ANWR were a football field, the area for oil drilling would be a Tic Tac.


c. Environmentalists say that we would be harming a pristine wilderness. And while I’m the first to raise an eyebrow at the ability of the government to restrict itself once it has a pass…I have to look at the situation with some objectivity

I am an environmentalist… and when you take into consideration the technological advances engineers have made in this area it is remarkable how low, some even say non existent, the impact to the environment will be.. Today’s technology can produce oil in far less space than in the past, and with barely any impact to the environment. They’ve even come up with a plan to build the roads out of ice – so that there will be no evidence of any road once it melts. And Alaskan oil is shipped via pipeline; there are plans to build additional pipelines to US markets if the ban is lifted.


There are humans living there currently, some Alaskan natives; and the area is only about 55 miles from the existing Prudhoe Bay Oil field which currently supplies us with between 8 - 25% our oil.



The untapped obtainable oil in ANWR Some estimates of obtainable oil are start at about 11 billion gallons and provide up to 50 years supply 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.


Some say this will just continue our dependence on oil, when we should be seeking alternatives like ethanol. I have nothing against Ethanol, except that it is made from corn, which is being farmed on land that used to grow food, and that corn has to be shipped by truck to be made into gas, and so far has not proven to help the cost of fuel nor has it proven to be any kinder to the environment (was that even a claim? I seem to remember ethanol being some sort of “green” solution. So the cost of corn has risen dramatically, the cost of other food has risen, not that I have anything against farmers turning a profit but the whole ethanol thing has been pushed on us with not a single legislator opposing it even though it appears to be ineffective.


ANWR is the logical solution to our dependency on foreign oil. When President Bush recently asked OPEC for the price in oil to be lowered he was told “hmmmm --- NO” … the message is we are at their mercy and there isn’t a single thing we can do about it.



Environmentalists have become so attached to this issue which has become political for them. Think about it, if the major Greenie groups change their stand their contributors could feel their money was wasted and these groups would lose credibility and appear to be siding with the “big polluters”.


I get it why the environmentalists don’t want drilling,. Like the message from the column earlier, they think that if we compromise our national wildlife refuge we are on a slippery slope. But legislators can create boundaries that would prevent abuses; and like it or not, our society depends on oil until we can, over time, develop more efficient ways to live in the 21st century. I just read about a car that runs on compressed air. The prototype is amazing. Americans will invent their way out of this crisis eventually, but we need solutions now, solutions that will significantly reduce our dependency on foreign governments and that will ease the economic burden of hard working people who want to heat their homes and travel to and from work each day.


The reality is that today, right now, if we do not produce our own oil we need to buy it from someone else,

TODAY congress will not allow any drilling on Lake Erie, but Canada is drilling for Oil and natural gas in the same Lake Erie. Today congress will not allow any new off shore drilling but the Cubans and Venezuelans and China are drilling in the same waters – and they do not have the same strict environmental standards that we do.

the Gulf Stream flows north folks.

Buying foreign oil takes any environmental control over that drilling or shipping completely out of our hands. I trust American Engineers to take better care of the environment than foreign countries. And honestly, you have the “greenie groups” to thank for that level of corporate care.

As tree hugger, I see the best solution as one that we as Americans can control, and ANWR seems like the clear decision here. Who knows? Maybe if we had started drilling back in 2000 when the article I quoted was written we might not be paying $3.05 at the pump this morning.