I just saw this article on CNN’s website. From the first paragraph, ‘President Bush said Saturday that the Saudis’ modest increase in oil production “doesn’t solve our problem,” ‘ – The whole tone of the article is an acknowledgement that such a relatively small increase in oil supply, for the US, is meaningless. This increase could bring gas online to the American market almost immediately. At the same time, the current US administration is arguing for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas extraction. The US Govt’s own studies yield a mean peak in oil supply from the Refuge of under 900 000 barrels a day. That peak would arrive about 10-12 years AFTER the oil supply came online – and the oil is expected to take 10-15 years to come online after any legislation allowing drilling their might be passed. In other words, it is expected, under optimal conditions, to be 25 years before that peak in supply is reached. So if the Govt decides next year to open the Refuge to drilling (fortunately the US Senate just voted it down, again, for this year), we could hope for fewer than 900 000 barrels a day to come forth in the year 2033.
The second point about this is that one of the lines being touted most strongly for drilling in the Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): the old “we need to move away from dependence on Middle Eastern oil, in the interest of national security, and to avoid funding terrorists. 15 of the 19 terrorists that hijacked the planes on September 11, 2001, and destroyed so many people’s lives were from Saudi Arabia. In my opinion, anyone suggesting we need to become independent of Middle Eastern oil has no business asking the Saudi Arabian govt to supply us with more oil. There are lots of other countries that have oil for sale.
The third point is the influence this will have on prices. Such a relatively low portion of our oil consumption is indeed, not going to hold much sway on price – estimates suggest opening the Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling will, at best, maybe save us 30-40 cents a gallon. Those estimates are based on oil costing $27.00 a barrel. Oil is currently around $125.00 a barrel, so those savings would actually be even less. 25 years from now, or even 10 years from now, those savings will be even more diluted.
My point here is that the arguments for drilling in ANWR are intellectually dishonest, if not outright lies. As I said in an earlier post on this subject, there’s no information here that isn’t readily available to everyone. These people know all of this. So why would they argue the way they do? It’s not because drilling for oil in ANWR will help you or I, but that it will facilitate massive profits for those vested in the oil industry. I certainly don’t question that – 10 billion barrels of oil, at today’s prices, amounts to 1000 billion (1 trillion) dollars worth of oil, over time. So that’s why some people argue so adamantly that oil development is a good thing. For those people, there’s an awful lot of retirement funds at stake. I’m sure, for those people, drilling for oil in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) is indeed a good thing. But for the rest of us, for the caribou, the polar bear, the arctic fox, even the sly red fox like this young kit you see in the photo above, leaving the refuge alone, not drilling it, but enjoying a non-exploitive, non-extractive relationship with it, is, in my opinion, a much better choice.
PS – just to acknowledge my bias. I’ll be visiting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) 6 weeks from now, spending 2 weeks floating the Canning River, from the Upper Marsh Fork near the Continental Divide in the Brooks Range, 120 miles northward, out of the mountains and across the coastal plain to the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean. I can’t wait.