Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Dispute

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, is a refuge geared toward preserving national wildlife in northeastern Alaska. ANWR is about 19 million acres, in space, and contains a potential drilling spot for oil and petroleum. The potential drilling spot is a small area known as the 10-02 Area.

It is only 1. 5 million acres, or 8%, of ANWR, would even be considered for development (What is ANWR). The controversy surrounding ANWR is whether to drill or not to drill into the 10-02 area. Some people want to preserve the wilderness and to find more fuel-efficient technologies. Others want to lower gas prices and to create more job opportunities. If the government decides to drill for oil, it could possibly lead to about 17 billion barrels of oil, to last the United States for the next 20 years. According to the official ANWR website, Prudhoe Bay is located 60 miles west of ANWR and has produced about 10 billion barrels of oil in the past 20 years. It is currently producing about 1. 4 million barrels a day, but is slowly declining; this induces the need for a new source. The northeastern part of ANWR is America’s best opportunity in finding another oil and gas field the size of Prudhoe Bay. The coastal plain of ANWR could produce up to 1. 5 million barrels of oil a day and would save the U. S. $14 billion a year in imports (Making the Case).

75% of Alaskans want to drill in the designated ANWR area, 10-02. They feel that it could possibly relieve Americans of their foreign dependency on imported oil and petroleum. The United States currently spends up to $330 billion on foreign oil imports, not including the money used to protect and acquire it. The total area of area10-02 only amounts to 8% of ANWR’s total area, which is 1. million acres. Out of the 1. 5 million acres considered for development, only 2,000 acres of the Coastal Plain would actually be affected, which is less than half of one percent (Top Ten). Drilling in ANWR would also create anywhere from 250,000 to 750,000 job opportunities, as well as an opportunity to better the economy. Drilling in ANWR also has no impact on wildlife. This can be proven by the fact that the Central Arctic Caribou Herd that migrates through Prudhoe Bay has grown from 3,000 to its current population of about 32,000 healthy caribou. The total amount of oil that is expected from ANWR estimates from 9 to 16 billion barrels (Making the Case). There is also an underside to drilling in ANWR. Although it would considerably lower gas prices, it would take approximately ten years for the oil to actually reach the marketplace. Clara Tsang argues that instead of drilling in ANWR, the government should produce more energy-efficient technologies.

She also states that during the peak of drilling, only 876,000 barrels of oil will be produced a day. That is not enough oil to significantly reduce world oil prices. She states that the 2000 acres designated for drilling, Area 10-02, only account for where the actual equipment will be, not including the areas of the oil reservoirs. Lastly, Tsang argues the destruction of moral and spiritual grounds for conserving a place for meditation and inspiration (Tsang). On the official website for the Defenders of Wildlife, it states that we shouldn’t industrialize a natural treasure (Arctic National). It also states that if drilling became imminent that destroy the coastal plain of the Beaufort Sea, the most sensitive area of the entire refuge. They believe in preserving the national wildlife’s habitat, instead of tampering with an arctic, subarctic and boreal ecosystem (Wildlife Impacts).

According to the ANWR official website, Louisiana can be greatly affected by drilling in ANWR. It would create approximately 14,800 jobs in module and facility construction, exploration, and production engineering. It also states that Louisiana has already been greatly affected by Prudhoe Bay. Since 1980, Louisiana has spent almost $400 million in Prudhoe Bay. Also, over 850 Louisiana vendors are doing business in Alaskan oil fields. An example is the Prudhoe Bay gas expansion module GHX-2, produced in New Iberia, in 1994 (What Development). Drilling in ANWR could greatly benefit the United States. It could boost the economy, decrease foreign oil trade, lower oil prices worldwide, and create about 750,000 jobs, throughout the United States. On the other hand, it could ruin ecosystems and tamper with wildlife’s habitats, for a less than a significant amount of oil. Either way, a decision has to be made. Prudhoe Bay is steadily declining. The question is whether the government wants to continue paying the high price of foreign imports or drill at ANWR and potentially ruin fragile and ecologically sensitive ecosystems.


  1. “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ” 2008. Defenders of Wildlife. 19 Oct. 2008.
  2. “Making the Case for ANWR”. ANWR. org 2008. Frontier Communications. 19 Oct. 2008. http://www. php>. “Top Ten Reasons to Support ANWR Development. ”
  3. ” 19 Oct. 2008. “What Development of Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain Means to Louisiana. ” ANWR. org 2008. Frontier Communications.
  4. 19 Oct. 2008. “What is ANWR and Where is it? ” ANWR. org 2008. Frontier Communications. 19 Oct.2008.
  5. php>. “Wildlife Impacts from Oil Drilling in the Refuge. ” 2008. Defenders of Wildlife. 19 Oct. 2008.

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