ANWR: Another American Energy Opportunity

Whether or not to drill for oil and natural gas in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge is an age old political debate here in the United States. A number of laws, many almost-passed or vetoed, would have given American’s additional oil production capacity from Alaska. Paul Driessen revists the ANWR debate:

“We can’t drill our way out of our energy problem.” This oft-repeated mantra may have superficial appeal. However, on closer examination, it reflects an abysmal grasp of energy and economic facts by special interests that exert far too much influence over U.S. policies.

If only their hot air could be converted into usable energy.

Drilling won’t generate production overnight. But it will ensure steady new supplies a few years hence. Unlike electricity generation from wind and solar, hydrocarbon development is not an intermittent process. It is 24-7 every month, every year.

This is also one of my biggest pet peeves. Environmentalists and politicians who are beholden to them love to shout that drilling for more oil does not solve every single energy problem. Well — of course not — but it certainly helps solve them, and the benefits seem to easily outweigh the potential environmental costs.

The author also gets into the odd distinction between what oil reserves likely exist in the ground (and can be recovered) versus precise technical definitions of oil reserves by the federal government.

Finally, he points to the issues that Alaska is having with oil production that has slowly dropped in recent years. If it drops too much more, the major pipeline in Alaska might need to shut-down, permanently lowering oil inflows from the State:

Drilling in ANWR and other Alaskan areas would also ensure sufficient production to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAP) in operation. Right now, declining North Slope production threatens to reduce oil in the pipeline to the point where it cannot stay sufficiently warm to flow under months-long Arctic winter conditions. The TAP needs between 200,000 and 300,000 barrels of oil per day to stay open. If there are inadequate supplies, the pipeline will be abruptly shut down – and even torn down, because current laws require complete removal of the TAP if it stops functioning.

That would result in the sudden elimination of a sizeable portion of our national oil production. It would mean billions of barrels of already discovered oil would be left in the ground and unavailable to American businesses, motorists and other citizens – representing a terrible way to “conserve” energy. It would create a huge disincentive to future Arctic oil leasing and development.

All of this might please the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, but it is hardly in the national interest.

Read the rest here.


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