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Alaska Closer To Opening ANWR


November 05, 2005

(SitNews) Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski said Friday, "Alaska's Congressional Delegation has won a great victory in the ANWR debate, bringing the United States closer to fulfilling the promise of finally opening the 1002 area."

The U.S. Senate gave final approval Thursday for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of a deficit-cutting budget bill and then voted overwhelmingly to prohibit exporting any of the oil pumped from the region.

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Junjik River is located within the Smith Mountains of the Brooks Range.
ANWR Photograph Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Senate voted 52-47 for a budget reconciliation bill that includes provisions to allow for drilling in the 2,000-acre portion of the Coastal Plain of ANWR. The provision to increase revenue by drilling for oil in the ANWR survived a challenge - by a vote of 51-48 the U.S. Senate defeated an amendment to remove ANWR from the bill.

Governor Murkowski said, "It is clear that the common sense views of most Alaskans regarding energy development prevailed on this issue that is so vital to the energy security of our nation." He said, "We've got good reason to believe that the small 1002 area holds the greatest prospects for the next Prudhoe Bay-sized discovery and that means jobs for Alaskans and a stable domestic source of energy for the nation."

"We should extend our thanks to Alaska's congressional delegation, the state's Washington, D.C. office, Arctic Power, and all the Alaskans whose efforts are getting us closer to opening the Coastal Plain of ANWR," Murkowski said. "This action by the Senate is a major milestone in congressional consideration of the 1002 area."

The budget reconciliation bill calls for spending cuts of about $35 billion over five years. This would cut $16 billion from education and healthcare programs and $3 billion in agricultural subsidies.

The bill adds 90,000 new employment-based green cards per year raising fees by $500 - which will net the government $251 million.

Two Democrats joined fifty Republicans in support of the bill and forty-one Democrats, five Republicans and one independent opposed.


The Senate in an 86-13 vote, also required that none of the oil from ANWR be exported.

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ANWR Map Courtesy Alaska Department of Natural Resources

"America needs this American oil," said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. He said the refuge's reserves are "crucial to the nation's attempt to achieve energy independence."

President Bush praised the Senate for passage of the ANWR legislation. He said, "Increasing our domestic energy supply will help lower gasoline prices and utility bills. We can and should produce more crude oil here at home in environmentally responsible ways. The most promising site for oil in America is a 2,000 acre site in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and thanks to technology, we can reach this energy with little impact on the land or wildlife. I applaud the Senate for passing legislation to improve our energy situation with this commonsense approach."

Supporters for drilling have argued that ANWR oil will provide the country more domestic oil production, leaving fewer barrels to be imported. Approximately 60 percent of the oil used in the United States today is imported.

Oil is not likely to flow from ANWR for a decade with peak production of about one-million barrels a day expected until about 2025, according to the Energy Department. Currently, the United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil daily.

In a statement Wednesday on the Senate Floor, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said, "When we talk about the amount of oil that is available in the Arctic, we hear all kinds of numbers floating around. Most often, people say ANWR will amount to only a six month supply of oil for this country. The fact of the matter is, according to United State Geological Survey estimates, the Coastal Plain has a 50-50 chance of containing the second largest oil field in North America."

Speaking to the Senate Wednesday, Sen. Murkowski said, "We estimate that ANWR will generate the equivalent of what we have imported from Saudi Arabia for the past twenty-five years ­ hardly an insignificant source of oil. And, what we estimate we will be able to extract from ANWR would be enough to offset the oil that we lost when production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut down due to this year's hurricanes."

Senator Murkowski told the Senate, "The jobs that will be generated go far beyond those that are just drilling and exploration jobs in Alaska. Jobs will be created all over the country - an estimated twelve thousand jobs in Washington State, eighty thousand in California, forty thousand in New York State. ANWR means increased commerce and increased economic activity all over the country."

Senator Ted Stevens said the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is 19 million acres. The area set aside for oil and gas exploration is 1.5 million acres. Stevens said, "Because of advances in technology, only 2,000 acres of that will be needed for production."

The bill approved by the Senate Thursday requires the Interior Department to begin selling oil leases for the coastal plain of the Alaska refuge within two years.

A House bill also includes a provision to drill for oil in the ANWR; however, the Washington Post reports that Republicans say they may have trouble approving the bill with the ANWR measure included.

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