Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

CNN Video Clips

"Artic National Wildlife Refuge": Environmental Science 5th Ed. CNN Ed (2:03 min)
In 1980, President Carter and Congress approved the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act that set aside roughly 20 million acres of preserved land in Alaska known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), with only 8% of the refuge left open for oil drilling along the coastal plain and only if authorization is granted by Congress.  These acts of land preservation created a controversy among the oil and gas industries who believe ANWR contains significant amounts of untapped oil and gas deposits.  Oil industry officials claim that drilling in the Arctic is a matter of national security and emphasize the importance of drilling ANWR.  Currently, more than 50% of the U.S. demand for oil comes from foreign sources, and officials believe that if ANWR is drilled, by 2010, less than 50% of the U.S. oil demand would come from foreign sources.  On the other hand, President Carter estimates that the Wildlife Refuge only contains about 180 days worth of U.S. oil consumption.  Drilling for oil in ANWR almost began during the presidency of George Bush, Sr., but after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, most oil drilling plans were abandoned.  Currently, with the election of George W. Bush, the concerns among oil and gas industries may no longer be necessary.  Instead, environmentalists fear that the environmental objectives of the Bush administration are different from previous administrations who tried to keep the area untouched.  Environmentalists believe that the Bush administration is not focused on protecting the environment but rather is more concerned with keeping a healthy economy, even if it means drilling and possibly altering a national treasure.  The worksheet includes the URL for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Arctic National Wildlife Refuge web site.  (Student worksheet provided on CD)

"Artic National Wildlife Refuge": Enviromental Science 6th Ed. CNN Ed (3:16 min)
Located in Northeastern Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is considered one of the few untouched treasures in the U.S.  ANWR contains a vast amount of wildlife diversity, including peregrine falcons; caribou; brown, black, and polar bears; and many other species.  To protect the wildlife, President Carter and Congress established the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 that set aside roughly 20 million acres under wilderness protection with only 8% of the refuge left open for oil drilling, but only if specific authorization was granted by Congress.  Many oil company officials along with the Bush Administration are considering opening up ANWR for oil and gas drilling.  Geological survey research indicates oil drilling in ANWR could yield about 800,000 barrels of oil a day or between 5.7 to 16 billion barrels by year 2020.  If oil drilling is approved, it may take at least 7–12 years before any oil can be extracted, and oil production is not expected to reach peak production levels until 2020.  By that time, ANWR would only supply a small fraction of U.S. oil demand.  With ANWR, the U.S. would still rely on 60% of oil from imports.  Without ANWR, 62% of U.S. oil would come from imports.  Environmentalists contend that oil drilling in Prudhoe Bay would threaten local wildlife species, and a USGS survey predicted oil drilling would deplete the local Caribou population.  However, since 1974, the Caribou population in Prudhoe Bay has grown from 5,000 to 27,000.  The worksheet includes the URL for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.  (Student worksheet provided on CD)

Articles in "Taking Sides"

"Should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Be Opened to Oil Drilling?" Easton, Thomas. Taking Sides: Environmental Issues, eleventh edition.
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"Should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be opened to oil drilling?"Easton, TA.  Taking Sides:  Clashing views on environmental issues, twelfth edition.  2007 McGraw-Hill, p.134-151.
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