Fill 'er Up
Underneath the frozen 19.6 million acres of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge known as ANWR (currently a seasonal home for several thousand caribou) lies oil – a lot of oil: 5.7 to 16 billion barrels, according to the US Geological Survey. Of course we don’t have to use all 19.6 million acres to get at that oil – 2000 acres or about 0.01% of the total will be sufficient for a production area that could give us more oil than Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and New Mexico combined.
200 miles out to sea, in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), lies a further estimated 46 billion barrels of oil – most of it off the California coast. Considerably closer to shore on the Atlantic side, off Florida, is still more oil.
All this crude is currently untapped and untappable, thanks to green (and yellow) legislators: The moratorium on offshore drilling that affects Florida is not scheduled to expire until 2012, California has permanently banned drilling off its coast, and the ANWR ban is stuck in limbo between the House and Senate versions of the budget bill.
Yes, there is majority support for drilling: A 2005 Harris Interactive nationwide survey found that 53% of Americans want to open ANWR for drilling. Among Alaskans, support for drilling in ANWR is even stronger: two Dittman surveys taken five years apart found support constant at 75%, with opposition dropping from 23 to 19%. Eskimo support is even stronger: 78% in favor and just 9% opposed.
When the Sierra club looks at Alaskans’ strong support for drilling in their state, they have a simple explanation: Alaskans have been brainwashed. You can find another simple explanation by asking Alaskans why they don’t want ANWR to remain closed except to caribou: as the Alaska Federation of Natives explained, drilling in ANWR is a “critically important economic opportunity for Alaska natives.”
Of course it is naive to think that Greens care about the population of Alaska (or of the United States). It’s even naive to think that Greens care about the caribou – if they did, they would have noticed that while most caribou populations in Alaska have been falling, the Central Arctic herd, which spends its summers in the oil fields near Prudhoe Bay, has been growing at about 8.5 percent per year.
There is no place to hide from the logic of opening ANWR.
Prudhoe Bay is the largest oil field in North America. Originally predicted to hold 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, Prudhoe has already given us more than 14 billion – but production has been slowing since the 80s, and it is time to develop Alaska’s other oil fields. After all, this might be the caribou’s only chance for survival.
Of course getting at that buried oil would be good for humans too – we could realize as much as 2 million barrels a day at peak production from ANWR alone (not to mention the OCS and other off-shore resources). ANWR could provide us with about 10% of our daily oil consumption.
While one CATO researcher predicted in 2001 that this increase in American oil production would knock only $2 off the price of a barrel of crude, he was talking about a $20 barrel of oil. Four years later, with prices above $60 per barrel, a similar percent reduction in price would mean considerably more.
When dealing with environmentalists you must remember that they do not have human interests – your interests – in mind. Environmentalism is a religion – a kind of paganism that worships animals and inanimate objects. And environmentalists would like to see Americans reduced to living as animals do. Some groups are fairly open about this – like the eco-terrorist Earth Liberation Front (ELF). On their website I read this response to an e-mail that asked why the organization feels free to commit arson and destroy homes and SUVs:
“At least ELF gets its point across. Do you people know how unbelievably frustrating that something that is so important to me, something that I believe in, is disregarded and ignored by everyone else. The environment is important, and if this (arson) is the only effective way of getting that point across…I have no problem destroying an SUV or some stupid mansion. I mean, you people don’t even realize the magnificence of what you are bulldozing to erect some stupid shopping mall. I for one, refuse to go quietly.”
Most greens, of course, are not criminals; they are merely uninformed cultists. That does not give them a claim to majority status in this country or the right to control America’s natural recourses. There is plenty of oil out there, and we need it. While the environmentalist lobby continues to work on wind-powered cars, I plan to go on using real gasoline and I would like to see fuel rationing remain no more than an embarrassing reminder of the Carter administration. Drill away.