I: Managing our Energy Resources: The Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife
program is about an energy issue that impacts us all. Oil production
is a crucial aspect of modern life. Crude oil inventories have the
single biggest effect on gas prices, and the United States and Great
Britain depend heavily on foreign oil supplies. For example, in
January 2001, the United States imported 273 million barrels of
oil. The single largest entity impacting the world's oil supplies
is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a consortium
of 11 countries: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya,
Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Together, these 11 nations
account for 40 percent of the world's oil production and 77 percent
of the world's oil reserves, according to the Energy Information
Administration (EIA). When OPEC wants to raise the price of crude
oil, it simply reduces production. This causes gasoline prices to
jump because of the short supply, but also because of the possibility
of future reductions. When oil production dips, gas companies get
Beyond OPEC, there are
several other countries that contribute to the world's crude-oil
supplies, including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Angola, Equatorial
Guinea, Russia and China. The EIA expects that the oil production
from these nations will rise by 1.4 million barrels per day over
the next two years. OPEC tracks the oil production of these nations
and then adjusts its own production to maintain its desired barrel
After seeing how much
oil the United States imports, it may be surprising to know that
the United States is the world's second largest producer of oil.
In January 2001 alone, the United States produced an estimated 181
million barrels of crude oil. The biggest production region is around
the Gulf of Mexico, and the largest producing state is Texas. The
Gulf Coast region is home to two important producing areas: the
Permian Basin, located in west-central Texas and eastern New Mexico,
and the federal offshore portion of the Gulf. Other big oil-producing
states include Alaska, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma and Arizona.
Even with the United States producing so much oil, it is still heavily
dependent on foreign sources. It's that dependence that crippled
the country during the oil embargo of 1973 and 1974. To make sure
that this situation never happens again, the federal government
formed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). While most domestic
oil is sent directly to refineries and then to the consumer market,
some of it is held back and sent to the SPR.
The United States federal
government is also considering new places to drill for oil, including
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. By tapping
into this oil-rich region, the federal government believes that
it can lower American dependence on foreign oil. In 2001, a bill
(S. 389) was proposed in the U.S. Senate to open a portion of the
ANWR for oil development.
The Arctic National Wildlife
Range was established in 1960 to protect the unique wildlife, wilderness
and recreational values of the area. In 1980, Congress passed the
Alaska Lands Act, which renamed the area and more than doubled its
size. Today, the ANWR encompasses nearly 20 million acres, which
is about the the size of South Carolina. This region is still being
looked at as a possible oil-development site, but environmental
groups say that any oil production would upset the natural ecosystem
within the ANWR.
It's still uncertain
just how much oil exists under the ground of the ANWR. A 1998 analysis
conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates
that there are about 7 billion barrels of profitable oil in the
1002 Area alone, but the price of crude-oil determines how profitable
that oil is. If the price of crude oil dips below $16, the cost
of producing the oil would offset any profit. Prices were at $28.05
per barrel as of August 13, 2001.
The issue of gasoline
prices is often a volatile one. As long as cars and other vehicles
run on gasoline, the price of gas will continue to affect every
part of our economy. Many scientists are looking at new technologies,
such as fuel cells, to reduce our dependence on oil and gas.
Greenbean: In my opinion, the Arctic Refuge is a unique and unparalleled
wilderness, home to 130 species of birds, grizzlies, rare musk oxen,
polar bears, and dozens of other wildlife species. The 1.5 million
acre coastal plain of the Refuge -- the area where drilling would
occur -- is the birthing and nursery grounds for the 130,000 member
Porcupine Caribou herd, one of the hemisphere's largest caribou
herds. This fragile coastal plain is the last 5% of the entire north
slope of Alaska not already available to oil and gas exploration.
With 95% of Alaska's
north slope -- an area extending from the Brooks Range to the Arctic
Ocean -- already available for exploration, the Arctic Refuge's
coastal plain offers no real solution to our energy needs. According
to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
likely contains less than six months worth of oil, and the oil industry
has admitted that it would take at least ten years to reach the
market. Still, the oil industry and its allies in Congress are lobbying
hard to open the refuge's 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain -- the
area the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has called "the center
of wildlife activity" for the entire refuge -- to oil drilling.
We don't have to sacrifice
our national heritage to meet our energy needs.
usual, I completely disagree with you, Dr. Greenbean. The U.S. imports
over 55% of the nation's needed petroleum. These oil imports cost
more than $55.1 billion a year (this figure does not include the
military costs of protecting that imported supply). These figures
are rising and could exceed 65% by the year 2005. The Middle East
is a politically fragile region. If given a choice, it is best to
look for internal resouces druing these troubling times.
Only 8% of ANWR would
be considered for exploration. Only the 1.5 million acres or 8%
on the northern coast of ANWR is being considered for development.
The remaining 17.5 million acres or 92% of ANWR will remain permanently
closed to any kind of development. If oil is discovered, less than
2000 acres of the over 1.5 million acres of the Coastal Plain would
be affected. Although the oil will go to market many years down
the road, it will still be a viable resource for the future.
Between 250,000 and 735,000
jobs are estimated to be created by development of the Coastal Plain.
More than 75% of Alaskans favor exploration and production in ANWR.
The Inupiat Eskimos who live in and near ANWR support onshore oil
development on the Coastal Plain.
Let's stop beating around
the bush, and start drilling!
Part II: Sport Utility
Vehicles (SUVs): Friend of Foe?
dear. I knew you were a posterboy for the oil industry, but this
is getting a little ridiculous! Let's move on to another issue,
shall we? The very root of this problem involves society's wasteful
attitude toward energy conservation. Insteading of conserving our
resources, we take drastic measures that harm our environment and
sometimes even lead to war.
In my opinion, nothing
exemplifies society's wasteful approach to energy conservation more
than America's current love affair with the sport utility vehicle
(SUV). Because the government classifies SUVs as "light trucks"
rather than cars, SUVs have a license to guzzle more gas and pollute
more than cars. In 1975, when fuel-economy standards were first
adopted, "light truck" referred to a vehicle used to haul
hay on the farm or gravel at a construction site. At that time,
light trucks comprised only 20 percent of the vehicle market. Today,
SUVs, mini-vans and other light trucks make up nearly half of new
vehicles sold. They are far more likely to haul lattés home
from Starbucks than lumber from the yard. Even though Detroit has
technology that could make them both cleaner and safer, SUVs and
other light trucks are still held to low environmental standards,
roll over more than cars and pose greater danger to other vehicles
than cars do.
and play again, Harry. Look, it's a free country. If you want to
buy a fuel-efficient car, knock yourself out. But using the power
of government to punish consumers who don't share your taste in
automobiles serves no economic or environmental purpose.
My family and I happen
to feel much safer in an SUV, and believe that its presence is a
Yes, SUVs should be made
cleaner and safer. All of the automobile manufacturers are currently
improving their models, and experimenting with hybrid engines. But
this is a matter of personal choice, and the free market should
be left to decide what is appropriate.