OT ? - Move to open Alaska refuge as crude falls - UPI

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sysop: I'm not sure how to classify this article -- it's oil and Gov't. I think this is worth posting because opening a refuge is another sign that all is not well; this in the light of the recent Klinton Land grabs. It could also signal an effect of Y2K-related oil problems (or not).

Fair use - educational and discussional purposes only--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Move to open Alaska refuge as crude falls

Wednesday, 8 March 2000 22:57 (ET)


Move to open Alaska refuge as crude falls


LOS ANGELES, March 8 (UPI) -- With U.S. consumers likely to face lofty gasoline prices for much of the year, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee has proposed opening part of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development.

Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the bill he introduced Wednesday would reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and would have an affect on only a small fraction of the 19-million acre refuge, but the proposal to allow drilling operations in the pristine wilderness area instantly ran into official opposition from the Clinton administration.

"The Clinton-Gore administration has made it clear again and again: we will protect this last undeveloped fragment of America's arctic coastline for the thousands of caribou, polar bears, swans, snow geese, musk oxen, and countless other species who use it to birth and shelter their young," Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said in a release. Babbitt said President Clinton has vowed to veto any attempt to open up the ANWR.

Murkowski's bill would allow exploration and the development of oil and natural gas on 2,000 acres of the Coastal Plain area of the ANWR. "This development can be achieved with a small `footprint' on the land and with successful coexistence with the wildlife in the area," Murkowski said, adding that the bill contains extensive measures to accommodate migrating caribou herds and other animals.

With OPEC's highly successful production cuts pushing crude well past $30 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. consumers find themselves facing nationwide average gasoline prices that could reach $1.80 per gallon this summer, and likely higher in some areas such as California where state air quality specifications push refining costs higher. In the meantime, the oil markets reacted to reports that Saudi Arabia might be willing to go along with a production increase when OPEC meets to discuss the matter March 27. NYMEX crude futures fell hard across the board with April down $2.87 to $31.86 per barrel. May and June were also down by more than $2 and closed under the $30 mark.

Murkowski, who in 1995 led the effort to repeal a ban on exporting Alaskan crude, maintains that the Clinton administration's energy policy led to a 17-percent decline in U.S. oil production at a time when demand has increased 14 percent. He said the Interior Department in 1998 estimated the entire ANWR held 9 billion to 16 billion barrels of oil.

"That high figure would equal what we import from Saudi Arabia over 30 years," Murkowski declared. Alaskan oil is generally delivered by tanker to refineries in California, but Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, a co-sponsor of the bill, said increasing Alaskan exports would free up barrels for the Gulf Coast and other refining centers. "Oil is fungible," Stevens told reporters at the Capitol. "If you supply California's demand, the oil coming into California would be partially displaced and sent to the rest of the country. Oil is a gigantic crude stream out there."

Any attempt to open the ANWR would no doubt take a few years once it cleared Congress due to environmental impact reviews. The issue of development of the ANWR and other federal lands, however, has been broached in time for both this summer's driving season and presidential campaigns. It would likely present Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush with the task of balancing both U.S. energy needs and environmental concerns.

"The reality is that we (the United States) don't have an energy policy," Murkowski told reporters. "This is going to be a big issue in the political campaign because this country is in a period now of coming to the reality that we're getting hit all over."


Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.


-- (kb8um8@yahoo.com), March 09, 2000


This is but the most recent of the attempts to open ANWR. It ain't going to happen! Alaska would love to see another "pipeline boom" like Prudoe Bay. Alaska lives on oil monies and they are running real low now. I do agree that ANWR could be opened with little harm to the enviroment. Caribou use the current pipeline for shade in the summer. The caribou herds have continued to increase even with the pipeline. A tremendous amount of money,effort and thought went into the pipeline to protect the enviro and they were most successful. I think that they should open ANWR as soon as possible. A few years back it looked like they were going to do just that and all kinds of equipment and engineers, surveyors, etc began moving in there to get ready and then it fizzled. At the current time there is only a couple of drilling rigs up there. All have been hauled out. But watch how fast the migration of equipment and men could move if given the word. I am sure Chubby Hubby would be leading the pack!


-- Taz (Tassie123@aol.com), March 09, 2000.

So, instead of responding to the newest oil "crisis" with a national call to arms to develope alternative fuel sources, industry clamors to open up more pristine wilderness. I may be jousting with windmills, but we cannot go on destroying our last wilderness areas for any reason, especially for oil.

It may be an interesting picture, them caribou shading by the pipeline, but the fact remains that oil spills and the normal by- products of drilling will have an environmental impact, and the oil companies have shown their disdain for clean-up. The fines levied on Exxon for the Valdez incident have still not been paid. It has been said that the interest alone on the unpaid money now exceeds the original fine.

Sorry, Taz, on this one I agree with the president's administration.

-- treehuggingliberal (gray@matter.think), March 09, 2000.


I've gotta agree with you - it's time to stop thinking short-term about the ecology and start *strongly* encouraging renewable energy resources. I think of it this way - the more we use our own reserves (drilled or undrilled) the more our national security may be weakened... I'd hate to see us at the mercy of the Middle East for oil because we have no other choice, not because it *is* expedient. Save what's underground for a real emergency, not for some inconvenience.

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), March 09, 2000.

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