Tuesday, May 14

If you know much about Sports Illustrated, you'll believe me when I say the best treatment of the ANWR controversy that I've seen was in the May 13th issue (sorry no link to the article). Some of the salient points:

The Wall Street Journal called ANWR a 'moonscape', which it is not.

There are many good economic reasons not to drill. The nonpartisan Rocky Mountain Institute says drilling 'could not be justified on economic...grounds.' You have to get at least 16$ a barrel, which is not a sure bet.

There might be 80 B$ in there, which could be taken out of our trade deficit. It would also generate several B$ in federal and state taxes.

ANWR oil will not reduce our foreign oil dependency appreciably. ANWR could probably only supply 3.2 B barrels, only a 166-day supply for the US.

If cars, SUVs, and light trucks became 4 mpg more efficient, it would be equivalent to developing an oil field 10 times the size of ANWR.

The real clincher, as the article points out, is what do the people of Alaska want, especially the Natives? Many want the much expanded quality of living that oil money brings. In my mind, it's hard to refuse them the right to exploit the resources available to them.

The article closes with a pitch for saving ANWR. That's not necessarily my conclusion. Sure it's beautiful, and that counts for a lot. But it's not the priority claim. And it can't be proven that massive damage would be done, or that species would be endangered. If the people who live there want the income, I find it hard to refuse on the grounds of evironmental claims which are not absolute.

(I posted this at MeFi, if you're interested in the comments.)
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