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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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For the week of April 24 - 30, 2002


Misguided grab for oil

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may not be sacrificed in the name of national security to give Americans less than two years’ supply of oil.

By a wide margin last week, the U.S. Senate refused to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

The majority, which included eight Republicans, recognized the move for what it was—a move by cynical opportunists who saw a chance to use Americans fears about turmoil in the Middle East to hand the oil industry a little more black gold.

There may come a day when national security needs become so pressing as to require the United States to open up this jewel of the Arctic to drilling. That day will also require sacrifice on the part of drivers who currently show no signs of ending their love affair with gas-eating sport utility vehicles.

That day isn’t here yet.

Geologists estimate that the ANWR deposits could produce between 5.7 billion and 11.6 billion barrels of oil. That sounds like a lot until it’s compared to the U.S. daily consumption of 19 million barrels a day—57% of which is imported. Also, it would take about 10 years to bring the ANWR oil on line—too late to ease present fears about oil supplies.

The same senators who supported drilling refused earlier this month to support higher gas mileage requirements for automakers, something that could permanently reduce America’s appetite for oil.

That vote defied all logic.

Moreover, drilling in the wildlife refuge would give the nation a little breathing room, but no long-term energy security. Only conservation will do that.

There’s little doubt the United States needs to find ways to become less dependent on foreign oil, but drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be looked to only as a last resort.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.