By Teresa Welsh |
It's difficult to comprehend how some could still oppose the responsible development of our resources in the non-wilderness section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While Congress attempts to cut more than a trillion dollars from the federal budget, we are faced with record unemployment and a struggling national economy.
For far too long, we've kept these precious resources under lock and key, instead of using them to improve our energy security, create badly needed jobs, and provide revenue for the federal government.
Our dependence on foreign oil comes at a staggering cost. Last year alone, we spent an estimated $337 billion on oil imports, impacting both our financial and national security.
But it doesn't have to be this way. By simply granting permission to develop a small amount of land in a remote part of Alaska, we could generate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal revenue without so much as raising a tax or cutting a program.
While we're not going to produce 100 percent of the oil we need, every drop we get from a U.S. well is one less dollar we send abroad and one less job we export. It's not a case of lacking the resources--we have, until now, simply lacked the political will.
The ANWR coastal plain--a 1.5 million-acre area that Congress set aside from the 19 million-acre refuge because of its oil and natural gas potential--has at least 6 billion barrels, and possibly 16 billion barrels, of recoverable oil. It is North America's single greatest prospect for increasing onshore domestic production.
For years, the debate over ANWR has centered on whether production can be done without harming the sensitive lands within the refuge. In truth, there's no reason for concern as we have been safely producing oil in the Arctic for more than 30 years, using the highest environmental standards.
Just about everyone agrees that much of ANWR--with its diverse wildlife and beautiful landscape--is worth preserving. But the area we're looking to open for production accounts for just 0.01 percent of the entire refuge.
At today's oil prices, the federal government would receive an estimated $153 billion from lease bonuses, royalties, and taxes from the coastal plain. That's money we'd otherwise be leaving buried in the ground.
Now is the time to develop our domestic oil reserves in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
About Lisa Murkowski U.S. Senator
Cindy Shogan Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League
Edward J. Markey U.S. Congressman
Doc Hastings U.S. Congressman
John Fleming U.S. Congressman
Marilyn Crockett Executive Director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association
Robbie Diamond Founder, President and CEO of Securing America's Future Energy