US Senate approves ANWR drilling

Last week the US Senate gave approval for drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

The EIA predicts:

“The mean (expected value) estimate is 10.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil.”

from the Coastal Plains of ANWR.

The EIA also says:

“The United States consumed an average of about 20.4 million bbl/d of oil during the first ten months of 2004”

20.4 * 365days = 7.4 billion barrels of oil.

The people advocating drilling in ANWR like to talk it up as being part of the US’s “oil independance”.

Does a 1 year and 5 month supply of oil, sound like ‘oil independance’ to you?

Of course, I’m playing with numbers here… there is no way on gods green earth that we could actually pump 20 million barrels per day of oil out of Alaska. It’s simply impossible. The first EIA link states: “For the mean resource case (10.3 billion barrels technically recoverable), ANWR peak production rates range from 1.0 to 1.35 million barrels per day.”

That’s 1/20th of the USs’ daily, CURRENT needs… ANWR isn’t projected to come online… at any rate.. until maybe 2010, and at that rate until… 2020?

Oil independance, huh…

We’ve just put in motion forces that could ruins millions of years of evolution, wilderness, and pristine beauty…. for a year and a half worth of a doomed resource.

(hat tip: The Oil Drum)


When I was living at home, we had this big, beautiful maple tree in our back yard. It gave us shade in the summer… caught the snow and blocked the wind in the winter… and produced the most amazingly massive leaves that composted on our garden.

If we had cut that tree down, the wood pile would have likely heated our house for a season or two. Not that we would actually burn wood every single day… when we have base-board heating….

Why would we cut that tree down when, in the long run, it gives us so much more than the temporary fuel source that it could provide?

5 replies on “US Senate approves ANWR drilling”

  1. I agree, Chris. This doesn’t seem a good idea at all. You’ve picqued my interest and I’ll be trying to find out a little more on my own. Seems like a big waste of time, money and a drag on the environment.

  2. “Does a 1 year and 5 month supply of oil, sound like ‘oil independance’ to you?”

    I’m afraid it won’t even be that if the oil is exported to China and Japan. I wouldn’t mind keeping ANWR for national security reasons as a last-ditch strategic petroleum reserve but there is no sensible economic argument that I can see for exploiting it as a source of peacetime energy. And there is every reason to keep the area as an environmental preserve.

    The uncertainty is what will happen to the environment there if global warming continues. There was an intriguing article in the Canadian magazine The Walrus recently about what climate change could do to the distribution of water resources in North America. Rising temperatures will affect a lot of other things in the Arctic too. If the habitat intended for protection by ANWR no longer exists, then that could affect the debate over the site. But that may be the least of our worries if runaway climate change takes place in the Arctic as a whole.

  3. You’re absolutely right David.

    Climate change is already happening in the North. The Canadian (and Alaskan) Inuit population is perhaps the best resource for proof of this. They have the oral and written history of their elders, and thousands of years of hunting practices. They are seeing plants and animals in places that they have not been before. They notice the change in patterns of animals.

    It seems to me that we’ve already disturbed the global climate, and now we’re just going to have to watch what happens. The more immediate concern is oil because our current civilization is completely and utterly based on it.

    If we don’t figure something else out… then the smoke stacks and car exhaust will stop infecting our earth and changing our climate, not because we proactively made it so, but rather because we had no Plan B.. and the resulting human catastrophe will have naturally culled our species to a more globally manageable level.

    Humans are the most intelligent beings on this Earth… our success has rested on our ability to stay one step ahead of Natures ability to determine our fate. We can hear Mother Natures’ footsteps now… their approach is steady… yet inevitable. If we cannot once again leap out ahead of Her then she will overtake us and She will determine our future for us.

  4. It may indeed be too late to stop these guys. Nonetheless, I invite you to check out our 12 minute video which looks at the economic backwardness behind opening ANWR, in addition to the obvious environmental issues. Pass it on, it may make a difference yet!


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