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Drilling in the Wildlife Refuge, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Geographically, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is located in the northeastern section of the state of Alaska. It is made up of more than nineteen million acres and was created to protect indigenous animal species like elk, caribou, and brown bears, and to preserve the area’s natural habitat. But over the last twenty years or so, this magnificent refuge has come under fire, especially concerning whether to drill for oil which some advocates argue will help to wean the U.S. from imported oil and add to the country’s limited stockpile of crude oil.

Currently, it is against U.S. law to drill for oil in the refuge, due to concerns over polluting the natural environment and destroying the scenic beauty of the refuge which is home to some endangered species. For these and other reasons, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must not be allowed under any circumstances.

According to advocate Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, drilling for oil in the refuge is vital to the future energy needs of America and would send “a powerful signal to the energy markets” as well as oil companies and producers that continued U.S. drilling restrictions will only make the current global demand/supply imbalance worse, not to mention making future oil prices to skyrocket (“Drill Here. Drill Now. Drill ANWR”).

Driessen also supports his advocacy for drilling by quoting the U.S. Geological Survey which declares that there is an estimated 15.6 billion barrels of oil under the land that makes up the refuge and that due to today’s technologies, 60% of this amount is recoverable. As Driessen notes, “at $135 a barrel, this represents $1.3 trillion that we would not have to send to Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela” to purchase their oil; this also means lower prices and a reduction in the chances of an oil spill (recall the Exxon Valdez disaster) from supertankers carrying foreign crude oil (“Drill Here. Drill Now. Drill ANWR”). Overall, Driessen’s argument for drilling makes sense; however, he fails to take into consideration one vital area–that drilling for oil in the refuge could result in an environmental catastrophe.

Therefore, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must not be allowed under any circumstances for the following three reasons–1), the refuge is one of the last untouched and undeveloped areas in the United States, and as an “American Serengeti” it is currently “the greatest living reminder that conserving nature in its wild state is a core American value” (“Arctic Wildlife Refuge”), much like the efforts to preserve Yellowstone National Park as a national symbol of conservation; 2), as noted by the National Resources Defense Council, drilling for oil in the refuge has nothing to do with increasing America’s oil reserves nor with saving money that is currently sent to foreign oil producers; in fact, drilling in the refuge “is about oil company profits and lifting barriers to future exploration in protected lands” and about “transferring our public estate into corporate hands” for liquidation and profit; and 3), drilling for oil in the refuge will not help the United States to wean itself off of foreign oil, due to the fact that it could take ten to fifteen years before America sees any reduction in its foreign oil dependency via drilling in the refuge and in other areas in Alaska (“Arctic Wildlife Refuge”).

Thus, as asserted by the  National Resources Defense Council, the true solution to America’s energy problems is not to drill for more oil but to “invest in cleaner, renewable forms of power” (“Arctic Wildlife Refuge”), such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and in the future safe and reliable nuclear power.

Bibliography

“Arctic Wildlife Refuge: Why Trash an American Treasure for a Tiny Percentage of Our Oil Needs?” Web. 2011. April 9, 2013. <http://www.nrdc.org/land/wilderness/arctic.asp>.

Driessen, Paul. “Drill Here. Drill Now. Drill ANWR.” Web. 2013. April 9, 2013.<http://www.anwr.org/Latest-News/Drill-here.-Drill-now.-Drill-ANWR.php>.

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