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debate ANWR


									Thomas Sgueglia                                                                         Debate Number 2

Drilling in ANWR                                                                          Word count:

          Since the industrial age, fossil fuels have undoubtedly been the reason behind society’s growth.
As oil is becoming scarcer, petroleum companies are looking for oil in more dangerous places. In light of
the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill, many environmentalists are looking to lessen the United States
dependence on foreign oil by switch to a “green” fuel. However, they are being opposed by drilling
advocates who are calling for the increase in domestic production, especially in the Arctic National
Wildlife Reserve, otherwise known as ANWR. ANWR is currently not open to drilling but a congressional
law can soon change that. Petroleum companies and many Republicans are pushing to allow drilling in
ANRW. Many environmentalist groups, backed by the political stand point of Democrats, are against
drilling in ANRW and are fighting to keep drillers out. Society has a particular interest in this debate as
America is very reliant on oil. Drilling in ANWR will certainly add weight to the growing debate focused
around solving America’s energy crisis.

         Ben Lieberman, author of, “Myths About Drilling in ANWR,” is a writer for Fox His
argument is that the environmentalists who oppose his ideas are making up facts in order to create
controversy. He believes that drilling would not harm Alaska’s environment and wildlife. Additionally,
he found evidence that Alaskans support the drilling in ANWR. Mr. Lieberman states that ANWR
comprises of 19 million acres and 17.5 million acres of ANWR are completely off-limits to drilling. He
argues that drilling companies would not need that much of ANWR’s land in order to drill. The areas
with the most oil are the deserted coastal plains. Next, Mr. Lieberman addresses concerns regarding
Alaska’s ecosystems. He states that “Alaska has 141 million acres of protected lands, an area equal to
the size of California and New York combined.” Drilling would be away from a majority of those
protected lands. “Environmental opponents of drilling cannot point to a single species that has been
driven to extinction or even a population decline attributable to Prudhoe Bay,” says Mr. Lieberman. He
believes that drilling can be done in environmentally safe ways such as the drilling in the Kenai National
Wildlife Refuge which has been operating for decades. Mr. Lieberman’s final point is that Alaskans
support the opening for ANWR for drilling. He quotes a poll that says that 75% or more of Alaskans
support drilling including “native Alaskans who live in the vicinity of the area where ANWR drilling would
occur.” Mr. Lieberman says that Alaskans “know from first-hand experiences that resource extraction
can co-exist with environmental protection. They also know how silly the environmental gloom and
doom predictions are, as they have been hearing such nonsense for decades.” Mr. Lieberman wraps up
his article by stating that if the rest of America were as well educated as Alaska, this issue would be
resolved through common sense (Lieberman 1-2).

       When analyzing Mr. Lieberman’s article, I felt like he misrepresented much of the argument
surrounding the anti-drilling debate. Firstly, Mr. Lieberman is using the same excuse that BP’s CEO Tony
Hayward used after the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill: it’s a relatively small area compared to its
surroundings. I don’t feel like this is an appropriate argument to be making, especially regarding land
that is instituted as a wildlife reserve. Which brings me to Mr. Lieberman’s next point; that ecosystems
are unaffected by petroleum development. My counter argument is the Exxon Valdez tanker spill which
destroyed the fishing industries for decades and the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To say that the
ecosystems have been unaffected is insanity. To address Mr. Lieberman’s third point, I simply do not
care that 75% of Alaskans support drilling. He cites no evidence regarding the founder of this
information and additionally just because Alaskans are for drilling does not mean we should drill, no
questions asked. Society has seen the result of oil spills time and time again and this just proves how
reliable petroleum companies really are. To further show Mr. Lieberman’s lack of understanding, I
would like to point out how he did not talk about the United States’ dependency on oil and how ANWR
would lessen that dependency.

          Using BP’s oil spill at Prudhoe Bay as a precedent, Jason Leopold, author of “Reasons to Oppose
Drilling in ANWR Found in Alaska’s North Slope,” argues that petroleum companies cannot be trusted
with one of the most pristine environments in the world. Mr. Leopold brings many facts about Prudhoe
Bay into light before discussing the possible effects of drilling in ANWR. He comments how BP cut costs
by cutting safety and jobs. “BP seemingly ignored dozens of early warnings form employees that its
drilling operations on Alaska’s North Slope would be doomed if the company did not take immediate
steps to upgrade its pipelines and other infrastructure.” What’s even more shocking is that the BP
Deepwater Horizon Spill sounds identical to this story. Clearly the oil companies have not learned and
they cannot be trusted with the task of drilling in ANWR (Leopold 1-3).

        When analyzed, Mr. Leopold’s article does not contain much information about ANWR itself. He
was clearly educated about the Prudhoe Bay spill but did not seem to focus on the topic at hand and
therefore may have decreased his credibility somewhat. His main argument is that the oil companies
cannot be trusted because of their track history. While this is important to the discussion, that
argument can be countered quite easily. If someone breaks the speed limit, should everyone be
disallowed to drive on that road? While the debate is seemingly growing more childish, solid facts must
be produced and delivered so that Congress can make an informed decision regarding this issue.

          Joe Messerli wrote, “Should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be Opened to Oil Drilling?” His
article is a summary of the pros and cons surrounding this debate. Each side has five points; the yes side
argues that drilling “could dramatically lower the price of oil, leading to another economic boom.”
Drilling in ANWR would “lessen our dependence on foreign oil” and would “dramatically help the
economy and the people of Alaska” as well as “create hundreds of thousands of jobs.” Additionally, Mr.
Messerli says that drilling advocates argue that “drilling could easily be done without disrupting the
refuge or damaging the environment.” On the negative side of his debate, Mr. Messerli comments that
drilling “takes the focus off the real cause of the oil shortage – our excessive consumption.” It is also
possible that the drilling may not yield much oil and that it could be years or even decades before any oil
is ready for commercial usage. Mr. Messerli is cautious that the “wildlife refuge could be disturbed by
humans, with animal lives possibly changed in the process.” Lastly, Mr. Messerli comments that
America might want to save the oil in ANWR as a “last resort” for when the world’s oil supplies are
nearly completely depleted.
         Throughout my research, I found a lot of cases where evidence did not seem pure for both sides.
I believe that ANWR should not be opened to drilling because the yes side failed to convince me
otherwise. I do not believe that drilling can be done in a safe manner as the oil companies are only
concerned with profits. Additionally, I fear that if ANWR were opened for drilling, research in greener
fuels would suffer. There is a huge debate over how much oil is actually in ANWR and how much is a
gross overestimate. I feel like before society is desperately in need of ANWR’s oil, other technologies
and practices must be looked at. My argument completely excludes the fact that drilling in ANWR might
damage pristine ecosystems because as a society, mankind has rarely considered other animals and
plants before acting. With that being said, I hope that Congress continues to keep ANWR protected
from drilling so that the environment can remain intact and so that society may develop an alternative
to oil.

        Leopold, Jason. “Reasons to Oppose Drilling in ANWR Found in Alaska’s North Slope.” Dissident


        Lieberman, Ben. “Myths About Drilling in ANWR.” Fox


        Messerli, Joe. “Should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be Opened to Oil Drilling?”


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