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Oil drilling in the ANWLR - Essay Example

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The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was designated in 1960 by the then Secretary of State, Fred Seaton, for the protection of its pristine wilderness, diverse wildlife and recreation qualities. In 1968, oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay and consequently led to immense national…
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Oil drilling in the ANWLR
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Oil Drilling in the ANWLR The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was designated in 1960 by the then Secretary of Fred Seaton, for the protection of its pristine wilderness, diverse wildlife and recreation qualities. In 1968, oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay and consequently led to immense national debate on the exploration of oil in the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). The debates have been centred on whether congress should approve and devote public monies to oil drilling or invest in alternative renewable energy forms. At the centre of the debate is Congress whereby past records show that Republicans have been in support of oil drilling while the Democrats have been in sharp opposition.
The necessity of oil in driving the local economy cannot be understated. Many Americans need it for fuelling their vehicles, farm and industrial machinery. According to the ANWR website, a majority of Americans continue to experience the burden of expensive gasoline prices. This ironically occurs in a country with over 21 billion barrels of unexploited oil reserves but still spends billions of dollars in importation of oil (Arctic Power). However, past polls conducted by the ‘Dittman Research Corporation’ among the Alaskan populace, showed that over 78% are in support of oil exploration and development in the ANWR (Arctic Power).
The opponents against oil drilling in ANWR argue that it would destroy and deface the natural landscape as well as threaten wildlife survival (Natural Resource Defense Council). However, the argument is further from the truth due to several reasons. Foremost, technology advancement has led to the development of oil drilling equipment that cause less “footprints” on the surface. Consequently, oil drilling in Prudhoe Bay would affect less than 60% of the natural landscape (Arctic Power). Moreover, the argument on disturbance or extinction of wildlife is fallacious since past drilling projects on Alaska have not harmed wildlife in the area. Furthermore, the drilling plans for ANWR are scheduled to occur during winter months when wildlife activity is scarce (Corne & Gelb).
The other alternative proposed to oil drilling has been the investment in alternative and renewable sources of energy by Congress. It is a fact that investment in renewable energy is far much cheaper compared to oil exploration and development. However, the possibility of Congress devoting more investment to renewable energy at the expense of oil is quite a challenge. Foremost, a significant portion of Congress members benefit from oil companies as shareholders. This has been facilitated by favourable policies such as tax breaks that the oil companies enjoy. For example, in 2011 a total profit of $137 billion dollars was made by oil companies such as BP, Shell, Chevron, Exxonmobil and ConocoPhillips. Moreover, the congress seems contented with spending more money in oil investment since in reality the real costs are burdened on the tax payer citizens (Lavelle).
In conclusion, the public tax monies are more likely to be used in oil exploration and development compared to renewable energy investment. This logical conclusion comes against a backdrop of reasons. Foremost, renewable energy is the most viable and sustainable source of energy but rather an investment for the future and an expensive investment in the present. Moreover, Congress would rather sustain oil exploration investments since the benefits are more in their favour in terms of profit margins. Consequently, the decisions made by Congress are made in bias towards their own welfare rather than the needs of the average American.
References
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "Arctic Refuge: Oil and Gas Issues." Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 26 Feb. 2009. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. .
Arctic Power. "Arctic Power - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - ANWR Oil – Politics and Logistics." Arctic Power - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Home. Frontier Communications, AK, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. .
Arctic Power. "Arctic Power - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Alaskans Strongly Support ANWR Development." Arctic Power - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Home. Frontier Communication, AK, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. .
Corne Lynne, and Bernard Gelb. "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)." Almanac of Policy Issues. Congressional Research Service, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. .
Lavelle, Marianne . "Arctic Drilling Wouldnt Cool High Oil Prices - US News and World Report." US News & World Report | News & Rankings | Best Colleges, Best Hospitals, and more. U.S News & World Report, 23 May 2008. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. .
Natural Resources Defense Council. "NRDC: Arctic Wildlife Refuge: Why Trash an American Treasure for a Tiny Percentage of Our Oil Needs?."Natural Resources Defense Council – The Earth’s Best Defense | NRDC. NRDC, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. . Read More
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