Drilling for Oil in Alaska
Drilling for Oil in Alaska
Currently, there are more than 70 million drivers who drive more than 113 million vehicles each day. Compared to 30 years ago, drivers have increased their driving by about 44 percent in terms of the miles they have driven. It is likewise suggested that since 1970, traveling vehicles per year have increased about 145 percent. These information is according to the American Petroleum Institute; with increased driving miles and vehicles traveling on the road comes the corresponding increase in the need for fuel (Beyond, int).
Though fuel can be considered the most reliable source of energy, it is unfortunate that it is not the most environmental friendly source. Any individual who choked walking behind a car due to exhaust fumes knows for a fact that it is not beneficial for the environment as an energy source. Right after cars leave noxious black smoke, the need to have some effective means of fuel refinement becomes a pressing concern. The gas industry did not take long to develop technology for cleaner fuels.
Modern fuels including unleaded fuels in the market nowadays are said to be less of pollutants and less hazardous compared to fuels of the past decades. According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, there was a dramatic 41% decline in vehicle emissions since 1970. While there was such a decline, this does not mean that the associated environmental problems on fuels are solved (Beyond , int). The major issue is in the process of getting crude oil from the earth. Transport accidents, oil spills and pipe leaks still remain common.
The American Petroleum Institute asserts that there are many steps which are initiated to ensure that natural gas and oil can have minimal impact in the environment upon production. Moreover, the institute also asserts that with the use of diect technology in drilling, they are allowed to access gas resources and oil that lie beneath the sensitive areas of the earth (Chance 105). So far, despite the very impressive advancements in drilling technology, human intrusions and oil rigs still continue to modify the environment and cause habitat devastation.
The Alaska Wilderness League’s legislative director, Brian Moore knows the harm produced by drilling. According to him, the Prudhoe Bay 400 toxic spills annually, and those spills do not only affect the drilling site but also nearby lands. The devastating effects are clear and real, and these are not made up by environmentalists. It is very difficult to forget the otters, seabirds and seals covered in oil, which slowly died during the spill of 10 million gallons of crude oil in 1989 from Exxon Valdez. It is very natural for environmentalists to campaign and strategize plans against the drilling in a wildlife dense area.
The possibility of drilling the lands of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is a well-renowned area for pristine habitat and unique wildlife is shocking and alarming news to all environmentalists and nature lovers (Exxon Valdez disaster—15 years of lies). Viewing the issue from a different angle, the oil drilled in Alaska can reduce the oil imports of the United States of America by 15%, since at present, the oil imports of the country is over 25% from the Middle East. The effect of oil from Alaska in helping in the management of oil prices is very essential.
However, it can be quite pointless, given that all Americans can reduce their consumption of oil by simply eradicating commercial vehicle SUVs granted exemptions from the standards of fuel efficiency, developing hybrid technologies and drastically raising the requirements in fuel efficiency (Beyond, int). If the refuge of Alaska is made open for drilling, then the Rocky Mountains and the coast of California will come in next, and if oil drilling will be open everywhere without any limits, the available oil will increase by magnitude, which can probably ensure the energy source of the US for decades.
Not only of the US but of the world. The availability of oil will help the industrialization of many nations; however, in the same measure, the risks to the environment will also substantially increase (Berger 40). The officials of the Bush administration claim that the drilling in the areas of the Arctic will pave the way to enhancing U. S security by diminishing imported oil dependence. They are also promoting this controversial undertaking by asserting that drilling will help reduce the shortages on energy of the country. On the other hand, only a meager portion of electricity comes from oil.
It was explained by the American Petroleum Institute that crude oil prices are established in the world markets retorting to supply and demand. The fresh discoveries will be critically significant to supply. Each oil barrel domestically produced is one less barrel that should be bought from foreign sources. In the long term, added U. S. supplies will help reduce the prices of crude oil given that the demand for crude oil from sources which are not from the US is muck lower compared to what it will be without additional domestic production (Berger 85).
To alleviate the emergency of frequent blackouts in California and the increasing prices of gasoline, President Bush is promoting the increase in supply of energy instead of decreasing its demand. It may be too late to put a stop to the rising prices of gas, especially for traveling seasons like summer. The president is supporting the plan of utilizing the oil supply of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (LaDuke 30). As expected, this proposition of the president has clashed with activists of the environment and with some residents of the targeted area.
They are arguing that ANWR’s available supply of oil is insufficient to validate the potential damage to the environment. It is very hard believe that oil drilling in Alaska will guarantee benefits to the citizens of the US, since any kind of oil in existence will take almost a decade to enter the oil market and the estimates on the oil amount in the area are but tentative. Moreover, prices of oil will not change from drilling oil in Alaska given that the oil amount is minimal in the refuge.
Harmful pollution and oil spills are foreseeable effects of this proposal of drilling from the area (Stage, int), and much more if it goes together with industrialization. In Alaska, there is an estimate of 300 to 400 oil spills annually, which is approximately greater than one oil spill a day (Oil spills in, int). America’s largest oil spill was the oil spill of Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska last 1989 on March 24. More or less, 10. 9 million gallons have spilled to over 1,100 miles of coastline in Alaska. It all began when an oil tanker hit a reef in the Sound (Heinrichs).
The death toll of wildlife was extremely upsetting. Over 2,800 sea otters, 250,000 seabirds, 300 harbor seals, nearly two dozen whales and 250 bald eagles (Don’t, int) perished due to the event. Oil is still present in the area and it is now toxic (Exxon, int) even though Exxon insists that everything is been cleaned and paid for. A more recent event happened on December 7, 2004, where a freighter of Malaysia ran aground. It was carrying 21,000 of diesel fuel and 483,000 gallons of heavy bulk fuel (Oil spill devastates, int).
The oil spill was so alarming and devastating, since oil is extremely difficult to clean up and threatens the refuge of nearby (Oil spill devastates, int). As the drilling increases, the occurrence of oil spills tends to follow in the same pace, such trend is sure to exist with more oil drilling in ANWR even as responsible large companies have promised to respond quickly. The risk of devastating wildlife is always there (Montgomery 38). How can people justify permission of oil companies to drill in an area rich with endangered wildlife?
Why do oil companies still continue to drill even with the massive oil spills and its dangers? Is this activity truly worthwhile for the country? Sadly, these questions remain unanswered; however, it does not mean that these should not be asked incessantly. While importing foreign oil is a dire need, the solution is not in the destruction of pristine areas for oil supply. What should be done is for the government to invest dollars from taxes in renewable and clean energy (Stage, int). Together with this proposal for the government, Americans should act to help save what remains of our wildlife.
ANWR is something that the United States of America can truly be proud of primarily because of its wildlife. It is unlike anything else. Its beauty is incomparable and unmatched. The prospect of drilling the land for oil should not be presented to oil companies. Such activity should be be discouraged as much as possible, there are many other ways to find alternative energy sources. Everyone must help to protect and preserve one of Alaska’s grandeurs or else, it will just be a picture of a beautiful landscape left in everyone’s memory. Works Cited Berger, Thomas R.
Village Journey: The Report of the Alaska Native Review Commission, Hill & Wang, New York. 1995. p. 40 “Beyond the Brooks Range: What is at Stake in Alaska Concerns More Than Just Caribou”. Ecoworld. com. 28 December 2004. http://www. ecoworld. com/home/articles2. cfm? tid=360. 25 March 2008. Chance, Norman A. The Inupiat and Arctic Alaska: An Ethnography of Development. Holt, Rinehart & Winston Press, New York. 1990. p. 105 “Don’t Allow Big oil to drill in the Arctic National wild life Refuge”. Defenders of Wildlife. 17 March 2005. http://www. defenders. org/wildlife/arctic/print/overview.
heml. 25 March 2008. “Exxon Valdez disaster—15 years of lies”. Greenpeace. 19 March 2005. http://www. greenpeaceusa. org/features/details? item_id=681778. 25 March 2008. LaDuke, Winona. Alaska: Oil and the Natives. Earth Island Journal. San Francisco: 2003. Vol. 18, Iss. 3, p. 30. Montgomery, David. ANWR 1002 area and development: One question, many issues. Oil & Gas Journal. Tulsa: 2003. Vol. 101, Iss. 15; pg. 38, 5 pgs “Stage is set to drill in Arctic Refuge”. Greenpeace. 19 March 2005. http://www. greenpeaceusa. org/features/details? item_id=796496. 25 March 2008.