Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

For example, the massive energy bill introduced by President George W. Bush in 2001 and later enacted into law as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 originally included a controversial plan to drill for oil on 2,000 federally protected acres within ANWR. As passed in August 2005, however, the energy policy did not include the ANWR plan, mainly because of lack of support. The proposal to drill in ANWR instead became a separate bill in the Senate and part of the president's proposed 2007 budget. But the Senate rejected the ANWR drilling plan in early 2006. By mid-2006, however, as gasoline prices climbed back up to post-Hurricane Katrina levels, members of Congress were expected to resurrect the debate over drilling in the ANWR site. The ANWR drilling plan has been controversial because the level of environmental damage that might result from drilling in the refuge and the quantity of oil that such drilling would actually produce are matters of great dispute. The USGS estimated that between 5.7 and 16 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from the site, while the Alaska Coalition, which opposes drilling in ANWR, has claimed that 3.2 billion barrels is a more realistic estimate. Even the USGS conceded that the most technically realistic estimate for the proposed drilling on the site was about 7.7 billion barrels.23 Opponents of the ANWR plan add that the environmental risks of drilling would probably outweigh any benefits to domestic oil supply anyway. On the other hand, supporters of the ANWR plan say that the environmental impact of drilling on the site would be minimal because new technology makes possible the drilling of multiple wells with a single rig. They also point out that ANWR oil production could reduce fuel prices significantly because it would increase the amount of crude oil available to satisfy current consumption rates. The DOE, meanwhile, has indicated that drilling in ANWR would cause only a 4 percent reduction in the quantity of imports the United States is projected to take in between the present time and 2025.24 The EIA has also suggested that the impact of ANWR oil on gasoline prices would be minimal, since ANWR oil would represent just a fraction of worldwide crude oil supply, which averaged 84 million barrels per day in 2006.25

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