Drilling for Oil in the Term Paper

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A petroleum geologist against drilling in the area writes, "For all practical purposes, the refuge is utterly pristine. It also encompasses an area 26 times larger than Yosemite National Park, almost nine times the size of Yellowstone" (Herndon). While few visitors seek out the Refuge, there are several small native villages in and around the area, and these Native Americans rely on the bounty of the Refuge for their continued survival. These Gwich'in people oppose drilling in the ANWR for a number of important reasons. They feel it will permanently damage the tender tundra, which is easily damaged and non-renewable once it has been damaged, and it could affect the Porcupine Elk herd, which migrates through the area, as well. Drilling could disrupt their traditional birthing and nursery grounds, which could cause them to migrate along a different route. Since the Gwich'in people rely on the caribou for sustenance, this could create hardship and even loss of life in their native villages (Cherry). In addition, the Gwich'in people believe greenhouse gases are creating warmer climatic changes in the Arctic, and so, most do not support drilling for this reason, as well (Cherry). Thus, the native population in the area recognizes the great impact drilling would have on the region - contributing to climate change and damaging a pristine wilderness area that was first designated a wilderness in 1960 (Herndon). There are few areas so untouched by humans left on the planet, and to destroy even a piece of one would be tragic, and would resonate through environmental history.

Of course, not all of those involved are opposed to drilling in the ANWR. Many Alaska residents support the drilling because it would bring additional revenue to state
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coffers. In addition, proponents argue that the entire Refuge would not come under oil development. In fact, one writer notes, "These proponents of development argue that the SAFE bill limits drilling on the Coastal Plain to 2000 acres -- a tiny fraction of the 19 million -- acre refuge" (Stanke). The area proposed for drilling sits on the Arctic coastal plain, areas such as mountain ranges and meadows would not be part of the development at all. Another writer puts the area in even more perspective. "ANWR is approximately the size of South Carolina,' it notes. 'The area directly affected by oil and gas development in ANWR would be equivalent in size to Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport'" (Cherry). Thus, the area impacted would be minuscule in relation to the overall area of the Refuge, and it would produce enough energy to lower foreign oil dependence by two percent at its peak production (Herndon). This small area, referred to as the "1002 area," has been in contention since 1980, when Congress decided further study needed to occur on oil and natural gas possibilities in the coastal plain, before they set it aside as wilderness (Stanke). Thus, this small area has been in contention for nearly 30 years. If a decision had been made, the oil could be flowing by now, and American dependence on foreign oil could be reduced.

While some advocates speak in glowing terms of the pristine beauty of the Arctic wilderness, drilling proponents have a different view. One advocate says, "ANWR's coastal plain, the only part of the refuge where oil is suspected to exist, is a flat and featureless wasteland that experiences some of the harshest weather conditions in the world. Temperatures drop to nearly

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