Representative Markey and Supporters: Wrong on ANWR, by Christopher Burger

BACKGROUND: Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill on February 13, 2003 to designate nearly 1.6 million acres of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, thus permanently banning oil and gas exploration in the area.1

: Oil exploration in ANWR can be done in an environmentally-friendly manner, will provide thousands of jobs and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

: The U.S. Department of Interior estimates that ANWR can provide between nine and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil.2 If oil exploration were approved, only 1.5 million acres (eight percent) of ANWR would be considered for environmentally-friendly exploration and less than 2,000 acres (less than one percent) of the Coastal Plain would be affected.3

: The following are charges and responses concerning oil exploration in ANWR:

Charge: Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA): “The industry loves the [Arctic National Wildlife] Refuge so much that it wants to brand it with scars for a lifetime.”4


Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ): “…keep the Arctic Refuge as it was meant to be – pristine, sacred and enduring.”5

Response 1: Exploration in ANWR can be done safely and would not produce “scars for a lifetime.” President Clinton’s Department of Energy confirmed that current technology makes environmentally-friendly drilling possible. Ice-based roads, bridges, drilling pads and airstrips have become the standard for drilling in the Alaskan North Slope. It leaves virtually no marks indicating it was on the tundra; ice structures simply melt in the spring.6

Response 2: Congressman Markey claims the industry loves the Refuge, but does he himself love unemployment? Oil exploration in ANWR could provide between 250,000 and 735,000 new jobs7 and has a potential value between $125 and $350 billion (in 1998 dollars).8

Charge: Gene Karpinski, executive director of U.S. Public Interest Research Group: “It makes no sense to destroy one of the most beautiful places in the world.”9

Response: Most people would not consider ANWR one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Coastal Plain, where exploration would occur, is a flat, treeless, nearly featureless plain where the temperature can drop to 40 degrees below zero in the winter.10 Nor would the proposed drilling “destroy” it.

Charge: Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT): “Our energy supply is not at stake, but if we drill in the refuge our environment will be.”11

Response 1: We know oil exploration will not put the environment in danger. After 20 years of oil exploration at nearby Prudhoe Bay, the population of caribou has grown from 3,000 to as high as 23,400.10 Furthermore, modern infrastructure already exists in ANWR. The Inupiat Native Americans who live there have an airstrip, power lines and an oil well.13

Response 2: Oil exploration in ANWR could approximately replace what we currently import from Saudi Arabia for 30 years or replace one-half of what we import from the entire Persian Gulf for 36 years.14

Charge: Sarah James of the Gwich’in tribe: “The only right thing to do is to take care of that birthplace, that very special place.”15

Response: The Gwich’in tribe does not live in ANWR. The Inupiat Native Americans are the only people native to the ANWR region, and they support exploration by a margin of 78 percent to nine percent.16 Pro-drilling resolutions in the Alaskan legislature have received 100 percent support from both parties.17


National Policy Analysis #324, “Environmentalists’ Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Is Unfounded,” by John Carlisle at

National Policy Analysis #371, “Wishes Won’t Fuel Our Economy: We Need Drilling” by Amy Ridenour at

Ten Second Response #TSR21302, “Bill Clinton’s Department of Energy is on Record: Oil and Gas Exploration is Environmentally Friendly” by Tom Randall at

National Policy Analysis #305, “Government Restrictions on Domestic Energy Development Contribute to U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil,” by John Carlisle at

Ten Second Response #TSR73001, “Environmental Groups Target Congress on Bush Energy Plan/ANWR” by Gretchen Randall at

“Top Ten Reasons to Support Development in ANWR,” Arctic Power ANWR website, available at as of February 6, 2003

“City of Kaktovik ANWR Survey,” January 2000, Arctic Power ANWR website, available at as of February 7, 2003

“The Players,” Arctic Power ANWR website, available at as of February 6, 2003

“Potential Oil Production from the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Updated Assessment,” U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., available at as of January 27, 2003


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