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November 04, 2005

Senate Approves Drilling ANWR

Yesterday, by a 52-47 vote, the US Senate directed the Department of the Interior to begin selling oil leases within four years in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), with the goal of lowering the deficit and helping to pay for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Oil would not be available for another ten years, and according to a 2003 DOE report, opening the Alaska refuge to drilling would only reduce U.S. dependence on imported crude oil in 2025 from 70 percent to 66 percent. The House of Representatives decides next week on whether to keep the drilling measure in the bill.

This is what ANWR currently looks like.



These are pictures of current oil facilities in Alaska. These facilities meet the same environmental regulations the proposed drilling would. This is considered "clean" drilling.




So, over the next 20 years, if we get the most we possibly can out ANWR, we may reduce our dependency on foreign oil by 4%.

There are several reasons why I find the whole concept of drilling in Alaska to be disturbing.

1. This land was set aside as protected land in 1960 by the Eisenhower administration. Drilling it would be blatant disregard for a legal contract that protects the land. What good are laws and legislations if we can simply overturn them when there is money involved?

2. Part of the reason it was designated as a wilderness area was to protect the lands where one of the last surviving indigenous tribes lives in much the same way as they have for centuries. If we drill for oil, they will be forced to leave their homes and their land. They will literally be rounded up like cattle and forced onto a reservation.

3. There are endangered species that live exclusively in that part of the world. Drilling would ruin their habitats and disrupt their migrations, thus making extinction virtually inevitable.

4. There is inherent value in preserving wilderness as it was created. ANWR is literally one of the last great wildernesses.

5. No matter what you hear, drilling for oil is NOT clean and WOULD severely damage the environment. The current alaskan drilling projects have shown us time and time again, that despite the best efforts of science and industry, terribly damaging spills happen with regularity and frequency. On average, there is one oil spill of 2000 gallons in Alaska every day. This is considered routine and clean.

6. Although I don't think drilling would be worth it at any cost, WE WOULD ONLY REDUCE OUR FOREIGN DEPENDENCY BY 4%!!!! Also, because drilling in that environment would be so expensive, there would be NO drop in gas prices.

7. There is only enough oil in ANWR to sustain US oil consumption for 6 months. Drilling there would ruin it forever.

If you want to do your part in trying to stop this, please email your representative and let your voice be heard. While we do not live in a democracy, many voices can still change minds. Congress will vote next week. This is not a done deal. Congress could overturn the senate vote. YOUR OPINION MATTERS!!!!!!!

Click Here To write to your representative who will vote next week.

Here are email addresses for the senators of some states where I know we have a lot of readers. Please take the time to write to them too. Let them know if they did not vote in such a way that represents you. Perhaps your thoughts will influence how they vote in the future.

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter
Delaware Senator Joe Biden
Delaware Senator Tom Carper
Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes
Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski
New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg
New York Senator Hillary Clinton
New York Senator Charles Schumer

Posted by collin on November 4, 2005 10:12 AM


I just wrote my reps. This would not be a good thing.

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 4, 2005 12:43 PM

The part of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge that they want to explore was actually set aside in 1980 in the last week of Carter's Presidency. When this happened, the people of Alaska were understandably outraged that he essentially made an area the size of South Carolina an economically unuseful Wildlife Refuge.

I don't have a problem with them going in there and exploring for oil. A lot of people say that not much oil is in there, but that is not true. The fact is that no one has been allowed to take a full survey of the land since 1980. People who state the fact that not much oil is in there are working with the exact same 25 year old figures as the people who say there are billions of barrells in there.

They're not going to know how much is potentially in there until they are allowed to look. I don't think they could possibly destroy the the entire refuge just by looking.

Posted by: jaysonjaz on November 4, 2005 12:49 PM


While those in favor of drilling stress that it would not "destroy the entire refuge" they fail to mention that it WOULD destroy several very key areas.

Areas proposed for drilling are currently home to 17 native villages (they would all be forcibly moved).

The drilling would also interrupt the last known migratory route of an endangered caribou. This would restrict their breeding, and eventually kill the population. The native people who would be evicted depend on these caribou in much the same way plaines tribes depended on buffalo. If the caribou disappear, so will this culture.

Posted by: Collin - Band Member on November 4, 2005 01:04 PM

P.S. It is not true that the numbers are based off a 1980 study.These facts were taken from a US geological survey conducted in 2001.

What the senate just passed was not the right to explore the possibilities, rather the right to actually go drill.

Posted by: Collin - Band Member on November 4, 2005 01:19 PM

what part of laskan National Wildlife Refuge do they not get?
That's the worst possible thing that they could do to it!

Posted by: Anonymous on November 4, 2005 01:52 PM

Collin, I completely concur...

That said, I must admit I feel a certain sense of... well, I can't just keep buying oil from the Middle East. There is a definite sense of responsibility, I think, in exploring our own oil potential. As your convo with Jayson suggests, people have offered varying claims on what will happen and what exactly is up there... and continue to do as such.

That said, of course, I firmly advocate developing other fuel sources. And as you eloquently point out - is 4% worth it?

What do you suggest instead?

Posted by: jd on November 4, 2005 02:15 PM

I suggest:

Further exploration into alternative energy and 100% tax credits for homes and businesses who would outfit their homes to solar energy. It is possible to completely power a home using just the rays from the sun. Let's do it.

Bio-diesel. Figure out a way to make it mainstream. We can power cars and vehicles using soy beans and corn and animal fat. Let's do it.

No new car should be able to get less then 20 MPG. Stop it with the 13 MPG behemoths, that's just stupid. Every 6 months you get an iPod that is smaller and can hold 2 times as much music. . .and cars have been getting the same gas mileage for decades. We're smarter than that. We really are. If cars could take the same technological jumps that computers took, we should be getting 80-120 MPG now.

Make more hybrids. I tried to get one. They aren't available. They are a token things that car companies talk about. And make them the same price as regular cars, or make the tax break such that they are the same price as regular cars.

Carpool. Telecommute. Use public transportation.

Force companies with over x% profits (ie, ones that can afford it) to use a climbing percentage of alternative energy in their production processes. So. . . 10% alternative, 90% fossil fuel now. 50/50 by 2010.

Those are some ideas. Far from perfect, sure. . . but our first instinct doesn't have to be to foul up the artic.

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 4, 2005 02:26 PM


To be completely honest... I don't know. It is a dream of mine to live in a world where we don't use any fossil fuels at all. The use of oil and gas, no matter how strongly you regulate it, causes pollution. There is just now way around that. Burning that stuff is bad for the environment.

So, obviously I would love to see a lot more time, effort, and money be spent on researching alternative energy sources. I have to believe that if we took the amount of time, effort, and money that drilling in alaska would take and dedicated it to that research, we would get somewhere.

In the mean time, I am trying to voice my opinion (by writing to my representatives and voting for those of similar convictions) about how important I think this research is. Also, I am using as little gas as possible by driving a honda accord, or a motorcycle (I only drive my truck when the situation demands it) and carpooling every chance I get.

Posted by: Collin - Band Member on November 4, 2005 02:28 PM

Ok i'm tired of all this heavy debate boring stuff..

heres an article you should post as a follow up to the cow tipping story


Posted by: jaysonjaz on November 5, 2005 10:12 AM

Jason, did you know that Ian has been obsessed with cow-tipping lately????

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 5, 2005 09:32 PM

Dear Mr. Pitts

I am writing to ask you, no to beg you to oppose the drilling of ANWR. Really it's one of our last great wilderness areas, and that is more valuable than oil can ever be!

When we look back at our country in 50 years will we think "Wow, sure glad we drilled the Arctic, that oil really got us out of a tight situation."?


If we drill there we may be glad for a couple years (although we'll probably not even notice a positive difference), but we'll always regret marring the last truly wild place.

In 50 years I'll be 69. I want to be sure that our world still has pristine areas then.

ANWR is a treasure. Please vote to preserve it!

Thank you!


Ian Palkovitz

Posted by: Ian on November 6, 2005 12:35 AM

Yeah I knew about the cow tipping from Shane's very own weblog

Posted by: jaysonjaz on November 6, 2005 01:17 AM

Jayson, why don't you use your Super-Pharmacy-Man powers to discover cold fusion?

Posted by: Xerxes [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 6, 2005 05:38 AM

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