Say “No” to Terrorists By Saying “Yes” to ANWR

American television viewers recently received the dubious treat of television commercials telling them that if they drive SUVs, they support terrorists.

The ads, produced by such renowned terrorism experts as the producer of the film “Pulp Fiction,” claimed that SUV owners support terrorism because America imports oil from the Middle East.

Although the commercials were quick to indict car-pooling Moms, they had not a word of complaint about those who insist that America should not replace Middle Eastern oil with oil from (reliably non-terrorist) Alaska.

According to a Clinton Administration U.S. Department of Energy report, environmentally-responsible drilling on a mere one percent of Alaska’s 1.5 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) could provide 1.0 to 1.35 million barrels per day.1

That beats an extra couple of gallons a week anytime.

Yet, so far, no drilling. That’s because the U.S. Senate, lobbied hard by environmentalists, has so far refused permission.

The stakes are enormous.

America currently imports 1.5 million barrels of oil a day from Saudi Arabia. ANWR oil could replace nearly all we currently import from the Saudis for almost 30 years, or replace one-half of our imports from all of the Persian Gulf for 36 years.2 Drilling also could provide between 250,000 and 735,000 new jobs.3

Environmentalists insist that drilling on part of ANWR’s flat, treeless, nearly featureless plain – where the temperatures can drop to 40 degrees below zero in the winter (making it all but uninhabitable for most animals)4 – will harm the environment and the native caribou herds, but this just doesn’t seem to be so.

Environmentalists said similar things decades ago about drilling on Alaska’s North Slope, where, during the last 20 years of drilling operations, the caribou population has grown from 3,000 to as high as 23,400.5 Between 1980 and 1994, North Slope oil field development and production activity contributed over $50 billion to the nation’s economy – resources that would have been lost had the nation listened to the environmentalists.6

Environmentalists also pretend ANWR is a vast natural wilderness untouched by human hands, but Inupiat Eskimos have lived in the region for thousands of years. Don’t Native Americans count?

Alaskans – Native American and otherwise – strongly support ANWR drilling. Year after year, polls show that three out of four Alaskans support ANWR drilling.7 Pro-drilling resolutions in the Alaska legislature have received 100 percent support from both parties.8 Citizens of Kaktovik, the home of the Inupiat Eskimos, the only people native to the ANWR region,9 support drilling 78 percent to nine percent.10 The 90,000-member Alaska Federation of Natives, representing 400 Native American groups, supports drilling.11 (Environmentalists will tell you the Gwich’in Eskimos oppose drilling, but rarely volunteer that the Gwich’in live elsewhere – and that they support drilling on their own lands).

Contrary to what many environmentalists say, developing ANWR will not harm the environment. The facts clearly show that drilling on Alaska’s North Slope is making a major contribution to domestic oil production without harming wildlife or scarring the landscape. Thanks to technological advances since the opening of the North Slope, ANWR’s coastal plain can be explored with an even greater certainty that the environment will be protected.

In fact, opening ANWR may even help the environment. The widely publicized 1989 tanker accident in Prince William Sound was an oil transportation accident, not a drilling accident. As George Wuerch, mayor of Anchorage, has noted, it is ironic that those who oppose development of petroleum resources in Alaska would require instead that our nation depend even more heavily on foreign imports, which means even more foreign tankers navigating off the nation’s shores.12

By opposing development of ANWR without legitimate ecological grievances, environmentalists unnecessarily condemn consumers to higher energy prices. And, to whatever extent the Detroit Project is right about Middle Eastern oil money supporting terrorists, if importing an extra two gallons a week supports terrorists in their evil work, what does a million gallons do?

Amy Ridenour is President of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington, D.C. think tank. 

Footnotes1 “Potential Oil Production from the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Updated Assessment,” U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, DC, May 22, 2000, available on the Internet at

2 Gretchen Randall, “In Movie Theatre Ads, Actor Martin Sheen Attacks Proposed ANWR Drilling,” Ten Second Response, The National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, October 19, 2001, available on the Internet at

3 “Top 10 Reasons to Support Development in ANWR,” Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at on February 6, 2003.

4 U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski, “Drilling Won’t Make It Less of a Refuge,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2000, as cited by John Carlisle, “Environmentalists’ Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is Unfounded,” National Policy Analysis #324, The National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, January 2001, available on the Internet at

5 “Top 10 Reasons to Support Development in ANWR.”

6 Ibid.

7 “The Players,” Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at on February 6, 2003.

8 Ibid.

9 George Tagarook, “ANWR Reality Lies Far North of Gwich’in,” Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at on February 6, 2003.

10 “City of Kaktovik ANWR Survey,” January 2000, Arctic Power ANWR website, downloaded from the Internet at on February 6, 2003.

11 “The Players.”

12 Mayor George Wuerch, “ANWR Not An Either-Or Proposition,” Municipality of Anchorage, AK, downloaded from the Internet at on February 6, 2003.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.