The Post : Wrong on ANWR

By December 16, 2005Energy

There’s an editorial in the Washington Post today opposing drilling in ANWR, not surprisingly. Along the way it takes a cheap shot at Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who has the temerity to keep representing his constituents — who overwhelmingly support exploration there.

In fact, (sorry to have to repeat this) it is a place a fifth the size of Dulles Airport, it will be done in an environmentally-safe way and any wildlife that might be remotely harmed will have a place the size of South Carolina to repair to. Oh, and drilling would only happen during the winter, when the place is frozen solid. The Post of course scoffs at the mere million barrels a day — near Prudhoe Bay’s current output and equal to Texas’ on-shore output. Would the shut those off, too? Fact is, energy prices are soaring and we need to increase domestic supplies while we strive for efficiency and conservation (manufacturers are at the forefront of both) and find new sources.

Oh, and let’s get after the 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf, now off limits, while we pay the highest natural gas prices in the world. In the world.

Drop a note to your Member of Congress and tell them to get on the stick.

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Faith Gemmill says:

    What is missing on this blog page is the voice of an Alaskan Native of the region that is being debated in such a lively manner. I am a Neets’aii Gwich’in who was born and raised in Alaska. What is most important for people to realize about my people is that we are the ones who will be devastated by this proposed oil development of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The coastal plain (1002 AREA) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the core birthplace and nursery of 123,000 member Porcupine Caribou Herd. The Gwich’in rely on the Porcupine Caribou Herd to provide us with all our essential needs: Spiritual, Cultural, Physical and Social. The birthplace of the caribou is considered a sacred place to us, and due to the fact that our livelihood is interconnected to the caribou, we rightfully speak for that special place which we call Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit which translates to “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins” known to you all as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a human rights issue for us, Gwich’in have the basic inherent fundamental human right to live our own way of life as we have for millenia, and NO ONE has the right to threaten us or take our livelihood away. To drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be an act of GENOCIDE. Has this country not learned from the sad history of the past when it comes to Native Americans? Such as the Genocide committed to the plains tribes by the slaughter of the Buffallo? Is that what Mr. Herrera supports? Hmmm. How dare he claim to speak for our Inupiat nieghbors as well. I have many friends on the North Slope who are Inupiat and they oppose oil development in the Arctic Refuge. The Inupiat that Mr. Herrera refers to must be the corporation board members of the profit making Arctic Slope Regional Corporation which would be the main financial beneficiary of any development in ANWR. So in a nutshell ASRC drilling support boils right down to the almighty dollar (ASRC Corporate Interest). Lastly, most people don’t realize that the truth is sixty percent of the Inupiat community of Kaktovik which is right in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge signed a petition in 2005 opposing ANWR development. Most tribes in Alaska oppose as well, specifically the ones who are part of the Alaska Inter-tribal Council, Tanana Chiefs, Yupik communities, Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood chapters all across southeast many other tribes that are too numerous to mention. With that my people carry on opposing and we will continue to do that because there is too much at stake for us to allow develoment in the last 5% of Alaska’s Northern coast while 95% is already open to oil development, and of which there is only six months of oil which would not make it to market for ten years from now even if congress decided tomorrow to allow the oil companies to exploit this area, how does this solve the energy needs of this country now? It doesn’t make sense to me, and I would rather see Brilliant minds come together and discuss REAL solutions such as alternative and renewable energy sources….which of course would benefit everyone in the long run, especially while it has been estimated that Prudhoe Bay contains 30 more years of oil, isn’t that enough time to wean ourselves from the finite oil supplies?

  • hal herring says:

    Mr. Smith,

    here’s how I’ve heard that described, pasted from my other post tonight…

    BUT: Please let me clarify something that I see repeated over and over here concerning the size of the energy developments in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    Mr. Cleary’s quote ” if we excise a place a fifth the size of Dulles Airport to get a million barrels of oil a day?”

    I’m not sure that you realize it, but this quote is extraordinarily misleading and it has been used over and over here in the Western US to try and deflect criticism of large scale coal bed methane developments on public lands.

    The actual acreage covered by roads and well pads proposed in ANWR may comprise exactly the number of acres you describe. However: development advocates fail to tell us that the development is actually spread out over a huge area. in the (remembered,may not be exact) words of one former Wyo. BLM staffer– “think of the roads as a giant spiderweb. If you crush the spiderweb in your hand, roll it into a ball, the are covered is very small. But in reality, the web, the development, affects and controls a huge area.”

    I do not object to a good sound argument about the benefits and losses of drilling in the ANWR. But to use this metaphor about small scale over and over is to deliberately paint a false picture of the development, and that can only hurt the quality of the debate.

    Hal Herring

    Posted by:

  • Herman Smith says:

    Quit the lies regarding the footprint of oil development. Everybody knows that if oil is found there will be a honeycomb of roads and pipelines connecting these 2,000 acres together. This footprint will be tens of thousands of acres or more.

    I’ve been to Prudhoe. I know how its done. If you feel this strongly about drilling, have the courage to tell the truth about what the real impact will be.

    better yet, do what BP is doing and walk away from Arctic Refuge and devote your resources to getting rich in the future, through new technology and new energy sources that skip the oil.

  • Hal Herring says:

    Mr. Herrera’s anger is very familiar. It is the rage that we have seen many times over the past decades when people’s plans for profit on lands that do not belong to them are thwarted by fellow citizens who do not agree with them. We’ve heard it from the loggers who make their living on federal lands when they are told they cannot clearcut whole watersheds, or destroy creeks, or take the last of the old growth timber. We heard it ad nauseum from the mining industry when after a century of taxpayer funded cleanups and abuse of federal lands, the citizens of Montana banned cyanide heap leach gold mining.

    And perhaps Mr. Watkins does not have the “facts” available to him that Mr. Herrera so effortlessly displays in his attempt to make Mr. Watkins’ views irrelevant. But Mr. Watkins, like a majority of other Americans seems clear about this fact: The US has until recently been the world’s leader in conservation and the preservation of wilderness and wildlife habitat. ANWR is part of that unique American value, and it will not simply be given over to those who value nothing whatsoever on God’s earth more than thirty pieces of silver.

    Mr Herrera can call Watkins an “idiot” a “hypocrite,” a “communist” whatever—it’s been amazing to me how the advocates of development of whatever type always feel like they have the edge in name-calling and aggression over those silly “tundra-huggers” from the “sahara club” –the old pragmatic roughneck showin’ that tree lovin hippy a thing or two, and giving ‘im a haircut at the same time. But when he says that Watkins must live in a “communist state” I draw the line.

    The communists in Russia and China would have given Mr. Herrera exactly what he wants–they would have rushed the heavy equipment into ANWR, and public opinion wouldn’t have mattered a bit. Communist governments have never placed any value on wildlife or wild places or on clean water or air. They are always in control of the “facts,” production figures! pipelines! and no namby pamby talk from those “impractical” and “overly sensitive” “idiots” like Mr. Watkins who worry about issues like whether there are any places left on earth where mankind has not sacked the place for the last ounce of profit, and left behind their scars and their trash. And haven’t the communists done a good old job, Mr. Herrera? Isn’t American democracy and the fact that a majority of people don’t want you building your roads inrto ANWR just too infuriating for you to bear?

    Let’s don’t go any further with dissecting Mr. Herrera’s rage. We can see it in any home in America, when that over indulged three year old throws a tantrum because they are told they cannot have that last cookie.

  • Jim Ehlers says:

    There is another point about ANWR that never really comes up. The debate is always centered around the oil and the impact is will have, both to the oil supply for the USA and the impact of the drilling at ANWR. This is another bigger issue lurking in the background….

    First you need to have an understanding of the history of Wilderness and Conservation in our country. You need to know how a National Monument is created (by Executive Order of the President under the Antiquity’s Act of 1906), how Wilderness is created (The Wilderness Act of 1964 allows Congress to designate Wilderness areas), and a history of the use of these tools. The forward thinking of leaders like Teddy Roosevelt and David Brower. How every President in a 100 years has created National Monuments as part of their duty and legacy as leaders of this country.

    Then you need to understand how Bush has been the first President to not use these tools, but more importantly he has asked the question �how can we undue these Monuments and Wilderness areas�. One only has to look at what Bush has been doing in Utah in supporting those who want to unprotect land in the Grand Staircase / Escalante area, California where he has wanted to allow logging in Sequoia National Monument, The Roadless Conservation Rule and drilling in ANWR as just a few examples. This is not about timber, oil or minerals. It is about a political idealogical position not based in science or fact, but is a belief that the free market should drive EVERYTHING even our national heritage. ANWR sets a legal precedence that will make it difficult to continue protecting other National treasures, exactly what Bush wants. Tom Delay said about 2 years ago, �if we open up Alaska we can then drill anywhere!� This is the real endgame. Maybe ANWR wont solve our energy problems but it will set in motion a frame work to unprotect other parts of our country and put them on the chopping block of the free market.

    James Watts, Secretary of Interior under Reagan once said (1983) on the Hill, �Why should we concern ourselves with protecting the trees? Once the last tree is felled Jesus will be back to save us all�. This is the ideology of our President, many may find this a big pill to swallow, but James Watts who later lost his job under Reagan went on to found the Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver that later fueled the Sagebrush Rebellion in Moab, UT, the same people Bush is supporting today in Utah. Watts also had a prot�g�, Gale Norton, Bush’s appointed secretary of Interior today. She is considered by many to be be more of a zealot than Watts. Norton is but an example of the people Bush has put in place to carry out his agenda, there are many more like her in the current administration.

    To put this in context if Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt had the same vision as Bush we would not have places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or the other 240 million acres he protected. I personally think Roosevelt’s ability to look 100 years into the future was one of his greatest assets. If he had not Grand Canyon may have condos on its rim with a dammed laked in the bottom, Yellowstone would have made a few million 2 X 4’s and a trillion rolls of toilet paper. I believe in their current state those place are much more valuable to all Americans! Thank you Mr. Roosevelt.

  • A. Herrera says:

    Spencer Watkins has it ALL WRONG. As an Alaskan resident and one who has been to, worked in, and studied ANWR for years, I found every single comment of Mr. Watkins to be nothing but RUBBISH! My job is currently to know and understand ANWR and help pass ANWR legislation in Congress and I have had in my office in the last month the President of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (which represents ALL Inupiat Natives of Alaska’s North Slope), the State Senator representing the North Slope of Alaska, the elder leaders of both the Inupiats of Kaktovik (ANWR’s only residents) and Point Barrow, Alaska as well as dozens of native representatives from all over Alaska who are here solely to try and convince Congress that opening the 10-02 area of ANWR is the best idea for the Native people of Alaska as well as Alaskans and Americans as a whole. OVER 75% of Alaskans support opening 10-02 including the Governor and our 3 delegates to Congress. Mr. Watkins must think these people don’t exist, either that, or their titles mean nothing. What an insult! and how ignorant Mr. Watkins is! He must also think that the unanimous support of the Alaska State Legislature (a state legislature respresents the people of the state Mr. Watkins, do you understand?) means nothing. For your information Mr. Watkins the Alaska State Legislature, the voice of the people of Alaska has, for over 20 years, passed yearly resolutions and appropriated millions of dollars to OPEN ANWR! Oh Mr. Watkins, you must live in some communist state then, clearly you don’t understand representation and the democratic way. It is Alaska’s land and we HAVE benefited HUGELY from oil development at Prudhoe Bay. Mr. Watkins seems to think new schools, the first in the Arctic no “improvement” to life of the people. What about a fire stations, clinics, meeting halls, jobs, a sustainable tax base, running water, flush toilets???? Need I go on? ALL THESE THINGS WERE BROUGHT ABOUT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE ARCTIC DIRECTLY FROM taxes on OIL REVENUES AT PRUDHOE BAY and solid jobs many natives hold working in the oil industry. The native population of Alaska is OVERWHELMINGLY supportive of this issue. Proof? The Alaska Federation of Natives (Alaskan Native’s Governing Body representing ALL NATIVES PEOPLES OF ALASKA!) continued democratic passage of resolutions stating YEARLY support for ANWR. Thats the voice and leadership of ALL Alaskan Natives making that statement. Mr. Watkins spouts lies and rubbish and has no idea what he is talking about! He clearly is no Alaskan; he clearly has never read anything beyond disingenuous lies and nonesense from the Sierra Club.
    Mr. Watkins doesn’t understand the law either. The LAW on ANWR states no more the 2000 acres can be used for surface development within the 10-02 Area. Thats .04% of the TOTAL ANWR area! Thats less than 1/2 of 1 percent! And thats THE LAW!
    Mr. Watkins oil development and the environment “oxymoron” comment clearly indicate he doesn’t believe humans can co-exist with their natural environment. EPA rules and regs, who needs them? Right? We should just pull up our parking lots, stop producing or consuming anything, shed our clothes, and start running around on all fours scavenging like neaderthals. Somehow I wish there were some far off island or better yet planet where idiots like Mr. Watkins could go to live out their primative leopard toga fantasies. It would be bliss to wave them good-bye and throw a thoroughly knawed caribou bone after them as they disappeared over the horizon. But he is willing to hypocritically type his message on a plastic keyboard, wear synthetic fibers, drive his car, eat his plastic wrapped steak and veg and use and surround himself with all things OIL dependent. HYPROCRITE indeed is a polite way to label Mr. Watkins.

    And NO our Alaskan economy is not “weak” as brainwashed Mr. Watkins says. The Alaskan economy is and has been one of the richest in America. We have some of the highest paid per capital workers, some of the highest educated citizens of any state; one of the most diverse economies, and the one of the busiest airports, based on international trade, in America.

    Others like Mr. Watkins ignorantly claim the area in question is “refuge” and “wilderness”. WRONG! The 10-02 Area is designated neither “refuge” nor “wilderness”. The southern and central areas of ANWR are labeled such and are permanently off limits to development. The 10-02 Area is defined as an “area set aside for oil and gas exploration” as defined in the ANILCA bill. Thats NOT refuge! Thats NOT wilderness! The fact that the 10-02 resides within the ANWR borders means ZERO as ANWR is specifically devided and defined by the bill that created it by zone and each zone has a legal definition of use and purpose.

    Maybe Mr. Watkins should know his precious Gwichin Indians who live 160 miles from 10-02 leased ALL their native lands 3 times for oil exploration. 10-02 is not even their cultural or tribal land to talk about or insultingly insinuate they have claim to. Their Inupiat bretheren are hugely insulted by and publically condem Gwichin claims to Inupiat Homelands. The Gwichin indeed have been ostracized by Alaska natives as a whole for their hypocritical stance on ANWR. The Mayor of the entire North Slope Bourough, (the entire northern third of Alaska) George Ahmoagak, public has stated he strongly disagrees and is conscerned with the authenticity and cultural mores of those Gwichin making such claims on Inupiat lands and heritage. The Gwichin mouthpiece, the Gwichin Steering Committee is fully funded by radical environmental groups one should remember. Not only that, the Gwichin themselves own and operate oil production contract companies that leach off the oil fields they condem.


    Mr. Watkins, also needs a lesson in physics as he clearly doesn’t understand volumns and capacities. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline can handle 2.1 million barrels a day. At maximum capacity the minumum predicted return by USGS of 10-02 would last over 25 years. The pipe is only so big Mr. Watkins, you can’t get a billion barrels of oil out of the ground in one day mate, nor could you send it down ANY known pipe in “6 months”… its a physical impossibility. You live in a different dimension Mr. Watkins, certainly not one of this earth.
    Let the rest of us be educated in the realities and reasoned arguements on ANWR. Man and nature CAN co-exist. We CAN responsibly care for our environment. We CAN live in a democratic society and elect leaders to REPRESENT our views. ANWR will happen, and when it does, even HYPROCRITES like Mr. Watkins will learn to see the light and will benefit from it.

  • Hal Herring says:

    Although I know that there is a clear and very siginificant profit incentive for Stevens and the oil industry (are they actually the same entity?) to want to drill in ANWR, there is another incentive that just now seems to be coming clearly into the national consciousness.

    The decision to place ANWR off limits has become a symbol(perhaps for both sides of the debate, but certainly for the advocates of industrial development) that the people of the US really do value some intangible resources, like wildlife and a pristine place far away, that they may never even visit, more than short term profit or even the dubious promise of “security.” It is my opinion that this idea– which is as much spiritual as anything else– is incomprehensible to men like Senator Stevens, and is considered deeply and dangerously subversive.

    The citizens of the US were the first on earth to create Wilderness designations, and they designed the world’s most effective laws to protect clean air and water, enacted laws such as the Endangered Species Act, all of which limited the potential profits of industry in order to protect what is basically an idea?the idea that there are things more valuable than money, that this nation is still a nation of ideals that is fuled by economic freedom, rather than simply an engine of commerce. As population and consumption skyrocket, that idea becomes more of an impediment to potential profits, so it is more and more under attack from all sides. I?ve heard it said more than once,from enviros(I’m one of them), ?They know that if they can drill in ANWR, then there will be no place off limits.?

    Perhaps that debate should be opened up here?

    Hal Herring

  • Spencer Watkins says:

    I completely disagree with Pat Cleary. I’m curious to know why Cleary thinks Alaskan natives and locals “overwhelmingly support (oil) exploration”. Has he been there and talked to them? Alaska’s economy is weak by our socities standards, these people depend on the land to survive and the economic boost from drilling has done little to improve their quality of life.

    Environmentally safe oil extraction is an oxymoron. Not to mention the obvious negative side-affects of burning hydrocarbons at the scale we do. Pat talks about the wildlife briefly, but failed to mention native peoples live there too and have for generations. Are you pro-life Pat? I’m guessing so. What about those peoples lives and culture which would be severly impacted.

    Pat also adress the size of the proposed operation: check out a map of the current drilling operations up there. If it’s opened, drill rigs would be all over the place.

    You want to address the quantity? It might be enough to sustain the US consumption for 3-6 months, but know one knows for sure. And the resource would be put on the globaly market, mostly going to Asia so the oil companies could add a few more billion dollars to their accounts.

    The only people who would benifit from this are the oil companies. To all you “conservatives” out there, try conserving something tangible for a change.

  • John Richardson says:

    Regardless of how anyone feels about leasing a Wildlife Refuge to oil companies, a Pentagon Spending bill (or a Budget Reconciliation bill) is an inappropiate and improper place to tack on leasing of public lands.

    Hijacking other bills to strong-arm your agenda through the congress is an abuse of power. These tactics are used solely to limit public debate and circumvent normal congressional procedures.

    The ANWR drilling will not reduce our fuel prices, dependance on foreign oil nor strengthen our national security.

    This debate is over the leasing dollars that the oil companies will pay to the federal government and the State of Alaska – it’s not about any real energy solutions. Raising fuel efficiency standards even by a little will have a much more dramatic and real effect than drilling.