Photo by Jo Goldmann, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
After writing my last post, I decided I needed to remind folks how strongly and vehemently I oppose drilling in ANWR. Often, the knee-jerk response to the $4.00/gallon gas is to call for more domestic production and drilling in ANWR or off-shore. Neither of these approaches is the solution to our dependence on oil–our dependence on oil is the problem. As the article “ANWR is Not the Answer” outlines, oil is a declining resource, and there is little we can do to adjust the supply. Instead, we must focus on the demand. Simply, we must use less oil.
When I was working in publishing, I met a guy named Christian at the trade shows I went to for work. At the time, Christian lived in Brooklyn and commuted to Manhattan by bike. He said something that has stuck with me for years… He talked about being annoyed with friends or coworkers who called, late to appointments or work, because they were stuck “in traffic.” Christian scoffed, “They aren’t in traffic. They are traffic!” I thought that was so brilliant–we do think of traffic as being apart from us, something we can’t control, not something that we actually create. Well, we have got to stop being traffic and look for other transportation alternatives.
Furthermore, drilling in ANWR would have little effect on the current energy crisis, something we’ve known for as many as four years. Any oil from ANWR would not be on the market for 10 years, and then, that oil may ultimately decrease the cost of gas by just ONE CENT per gallon. Destroying ANWR for a measly cent per gallon? It’s just not worth it.
Defenders of Wildlife explains how drilling in ANWR would affect the wildlife who depend on the area:
- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, encompasses 19 million acres and provides habitat to a diverse array of wildlife including millions of migratory birds, caribou, three species of bears (polar, grizzly and black bears), wolves, Dall sheep, muskoxen, arctic and red foxes, wolverines, plus many more. The nearby continental shelf provides the coastal waters with a rich nutrient base, which in turn supports a variety of marine mammals including the endangered bowhead whale.
- The Arctic Refuge contains one of the most fragile and ecologically sensitive ecosystems in the world. It represents the only protected area in the world that includes an intact arctic, subarctic, and boreal ecosystem, thus retaining the natural dynamics that have existed for thousands of years. The Arctic environment is extremely vulnerable to long-lasting disturbance because the harsh climate and obviously short growing seasons allow species that have been harmed little time to recover.
- The proposed oil and gas development would occur on the 1.5-million acre coastal plain found along the Beaufort Sea. This area is the most sensitive in the entire refuge and habitat loss that occurs here will impact the entire Arctic Refuge. The coastal plain habitat within the Arctic Refuge is also unique from other regions of the North Slope of Alaska because it is relatively narrow (only 15-40 miles across), limiting the alternatives for animals using these areas.