Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Senate Makes Yet Another Attempt to Open ANWR for Drilling


That's right, they're at it again. Green Car Congress reports today that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved "legislative language instructing the Secretary of the Interior to create and implement an oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that impacts no more than 2,000 surface acres. The legislation approved by the committee today is Title IV of the budget reconciliation bill to be marked up by the Senate Budget Committee on October 26."

[Edit: here's an update article from Green Car Congress, 10/25/2005]

Several ammendments were offered to the language, including one by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR, i.e. my senator) that would prohibit the exportation of any of the oil or natural gas to come out of ANWR. This ammendment failed 10-12, indicating, as we've already known, that a sizable portion of the oil coming out of ANWR will likely be exported (to Japan, China and other Asian nations likely).

Green Car Congress goes on to report:

"In March of 2004, the Energy Information Administration, at the request of Representative Richard W. Pombo, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Resources, published a report using government figures and analyzing—to the extent that anyone can without sinking a well shaft down through the coastal plain—the effect of drilling in ANWR.

Given the uncertainty over the exact amount of oil in place, the report lays out three scenarios: one for low-oil resources, one the mean case, the other for high oil resources.

Some of the report’s findings:

  • The mean-case estimate is that there are 10.4 billion technically recoverable barrels of oil in ANWR, divided into many discrete fields. This estimate includes oil resources in Native lands and State waters out to a 3-mile boundary within the coastal plain area. The mean estimated size of oil resources in the Federal portion of the ANWR coastal plain is 7.7 billion barrels.

  • It will take approximately 10 years to bring the first field on-line (comparable to other Arctic drilling).

  • Assuming sequential development of the fields, rank ordered by size, ANWR production would peak, in the mean case scenario, in 2024 at 870,000 barrels of oil per day.


  • Today the US imports some 10.5 million barrels per day. In 2025, the EIA estimates that almost to double to some 20 million barrels imported per day.

    Using the EIA’s projections of declines in domestic oil production and increases in oil consumption (mostly from the transportation sector), by 2025 ANWR would reduce US reliance on imported oil by four percentage points—from 70% to 66%.

    In other words, ANWR oil would make a small difference, but not a substantive, strategic difference. It doesn’t come close to solving the problem or providing “energy security.” Even if peak ANWR oil were available today, the US would still be importing more than 9 million barrels per day, and climbing."

    Get ready for an angry tirade (this constitutes fair warning):

    Ahhhh! I'm tired of hearing such utter hogwash out of Republicans regarding domestic oil exploration and the effect of the hurricanes. Sen. Domenici says "[If we had been in ANWR already] I don’t think we would be paying $3 a gallon for gasoline today." This is absolute bull$h!t. The reason we are paying $3.00 gallon today is NOT because we are short on crude oil supply after the hurricanes (the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has plenty of crude for us in situations like this). The problem is lack of refining capacity due to several large refineries being shut down in the wake of Katrina and Rita amounting to a sizable portion of our domestic refining capacity (which is already running at a deficit - we already import refined product from Canada and Mexico to make up the gap). Drilling in ANWR would have had no effect at the pump as they are planning on exporting the bulk of the oil produced their anyway (as is evidenced by the defeat of Sen. Wyden's ammendment). And finally, there's no such thing as "environmentally-sound development of oil and gas in the Arctic." Anything we do up there will have its impact on the extremely fragile ecosystem.

    I'm tired of the excuses and the lies. Let's hear the truth: Exxon and other oil exploration companies want to drill in ANWR for the simple reason that they want to
    MAKE MONEY! It has nothing to do with domestic security, price at the pump, etc. Republicans have pushed this bill for almost a decade now, facing continued opposition. Yet they continue to push it because they want a slice of the oil money for their next comapaign.

    If we really wanted to do something about domestic energy security or prices at the pump, we would be talking seriously about energy conservation, investment in renewable energy and clean coal technology (making sure it is manufactured in the United States) and a transition to an electric powered vehicle fleet of some kind - be it hydrogen, EVs or plug-in hybrids - thus ensuring that domestically produced energy can power our transport fleet. This would truly grant us energy independence and security and would lower the price at the pump - or should I say plug.

    Instead of ANWR, let's invest our money in domestic energy supplies that make sense. If it will take ten years for the first drop of oil to flow from ANWR and if even then it only amounts to less than 4% of our total imports, I see that as a wasteful investment of our money. If instead we invested that money into an infrastructure to recharge plug-in hybrids and the domestically produced electricity to fuel them - in the form of solar, wind and clean coal (i.e. IGCC plants w/ sequestration) - then we could see a MUCH more substantial decrease in our money going overseas to unstable and potentially violent regions like the Middle East.

    Simply increasing the fuel efficiency of our transport fleet by a factor of 2 from ~18 mpg to 36 mpg would cut our demand for petroleum by 1/3rd (transport needs account for ~2/3rds of our total petroleum consumption). This gain would be easily achievable even without plug-in hybrids which could see mileages on the scale of 60-100 mpg. This kind of mpg could cut our oil consumption in half, almost eliminating our current need for foreign oil entirely (which accounts for ~56% of our petroleum consumption). [These are quick calculations, think of them as estimates not exact figures]

    33%-50% versus 4%. Which one would you rather invest in? Which one is really about energy independence or lowering pricess at the pump?

    Obviously the $ investments don't equate since Im not sure what either would be exaclty. [Anyone know how much it will cost to get that oil out of ANWR?] The point still stands that investing in efficiency and domestic electricity supply to run EVs or Plug-in HEVs is a real path to energy independence,
    not ANWR!

    Don't buy this hogwash! Call your senator and tell them to oppose this attempt to open up ANWR ... again!

    [Sorry for the tirade...]

    2 comments:

    Mr. Natural said...

    I know that my two senators always vote against opening the ANWR, and hope everyone you and I know writes thier senators and stays up in thier face about voting against ruining this place!

    Anonymous said...

    booo. we should drill in alaska. it is enviornmentally smart and economicly smart. There will be more drilling for oil no matter what we do to fuel standards. other countries will not have nearly as much enviormental sense we have. ANWR will save america 4.2 billion dollars on oil a year. the caribou herds have grown 5x since the north slope delelopment.