Thursday, November 17, 2005
ANWR Leases To Be Sold
Despite being set aside for protection 44 years ago, the Senate approved requiring the Interior Department to begin selling oil leases for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska refuge within two years.
Though past attempts had failed, this time drilling supporters attached language ending the ban on drilling in the refuge to a budget measure that is immune from filibuster.
It is estimated that 10.5 billion barrels of oil lie beneath the coastal tundra of northeastern Alaska. At present, the US uses about 7.3 billion barrels of oil a year.
Do the math: that's less than a year-and-half's supply.
Experts predict that oil will not flow from ANWR for 10 years and, according to the Energy Department, peak production of about 1 million barrels a day isn't expected until about 2025.
Currently, the United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day and consumption is expected to increase an additional 32 percent by 2025.
It's hard to see how ANWR will make any difference at all. The leases are clearly a giveaway to oil interests.
Environmentalists have cited a report by DOE's Energy Information Administration that concluded that ANWR oil would only slightly affect gasoline prices and marginally lower the growth of imports by 2025, when imported oil would account for 64 percent of U.S. demand instead of 68 percent without ANWR's oil.
How about that for energy independence -- a whopping 4 percent decrease in foreign oil reliance. Wow, let's celebrate!
The provision in the budget bill assumed $2.5 billion in federal revenue from oil lease sales over the next five years. Alaska would get a like amount, as well as half of future oil royalties from the refuge.
That's one reason Alaska's senators have fought for years to approve oil exploration in the refuge, which was set aside in 1961 for special protection.