By Richard Hunt |
Yes, the time has come to take the federal padlock off an area that was designated for oil exploration more than 30 years ago. The United States needs the jobs and oil that a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, could yield.
In 1980, a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat-majority Congress set aside 1.5 million acres of the 19 million-acre ANWR for oil and natural gas development. But ANWR has remained trapped in the grip of extreme environmental politics.
I know firsthand how the federal government is keeping us dependent on foreign oil. The Obama administration wasted stimulus dollars on failed "green energy" projects, while showing contempt for the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. After imposing a months-long moratorium on drilling permits, the administration has used a "slowatorium" for the past year to dramatically slow the pace of granting permits.
We desperately need an energy policy which recognizes that the United States has the largest energy reserves in the world. By opening less than 3 percent of ANWR's total land, we could tap into more than 10 billion barrels of oil, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and raise billions of dollars in new federal revenue. Instead, we are importing about 9 million barrels a day of crude oil and other petroleum products, and paying the price in higher energy costs and lost jobs.
Alaskans, by overwhelming majorities, have consistently supported oil exploration on ANWR's coastal plain. But they have been met by bureaucrats who continue to bar the door of opportunity. The people of Louisiana understand. We give a similar resounding "yes" to questions about our support for offshore drilling, and yet we regularly face job-destroying regulations and permit delays.
Responsible exploration in ANWR must be part of a commonsense approach to weaning the United States off its energy dependence on foreign countries. Environmentalists have kept the roadblocks up long enough. It's time for Congress to act and to ensure that domestic oil will be there in the future through safe and responsible exploration in ANWR.
About John Fleming U.S. Congressman
Cindy Shogan Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League
Edward J. Markey U.S. Congressman
Doc Hastings 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
Lisa Murkowski U.S. Senator