In Movie Theater Ads, Actor Martin Sheen Attacks Proposed ANWR Drilling

BACKGROUND: Actor Martin Sheen, who plays the president on the TV show "West Wing," is starring in an ad attacking proposed oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In the ad, Sheen says, "The Arctic Refuge ­ is it worth destroying forever, for six months of oil? This is Martin Sheen. Please act now. Together, we can save what’s left." His words run as pictures of caribou and bears appear on screen. The ad is sponsored by the Alaska Wilderness League and is running in 12 states. 300 movie theatres have agreed to run the ad for free, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Americans know that independence from imported oil is essential to our national security. Oil exploration can be done in an environmentally-friendly way and help enable us to become energy independent.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Why must Hollywood try to scare us with inaccurate information? Only a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be available for exploration and even then only in the winter, when the animals are not on the plain. This field could replace all the oil we now get from Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years.

DISCUSSION: The Energy Information Administration estimates that between 5.7 billion barrels and 16 billion barrels of oil are available for exploration in the Arctic coastal plain. We currently import 1.5 million barrels of oil a day from Saudi Arabia. ANWR oil could replace what we now import from the Saudis for almost 30 years. Or, it could replace half of what we import from all of the Persian Gulf for 36 years.

As we’ve often reported, if exploration occurs the coastal plain caribou herds are not at risk. In nearby Prudhoe Bay, where drilling is occurring, the caribou herd has actually tripled in size to over 19,700 animals since 1978. The coastal plain is the "occasional calving ground" for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, but, according to the U.S. House Resources Committee, no members of this herd calved in the coastal plain over the last two summers.

In addition, drilling seems to have little impact on polar bears. Of Alaska’s 2,000 polar bears, only 15 have been found to den in the coastal plain in the last 11 years. Most denning occurs on pack ice, so on-shore development would seem to have little impact on the bears.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: See the web page of U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) at

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