Friday, January 18, 2008

Bush drilling plan could threaten polar bears

President Bush has sold the right to drill for oil in Alaska in"prime" polar bear habitat. Environmentalists are angry because they say that it should not be allowed because the effects on polar bears and the surrounding environment is unknown. "In December, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which included a provision calling for Congress to pass legislation opening access to "domestic energy sources such as the outer continental shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," according to a fact sheet on the White House Web site." How do you guys feel about this? Should we not allow drilling for oil on wildlife refuges or is it more important to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and exploit our own resources?

I feel as if there is no winner either way. If we start drilling for oil on protected lands, we may import less and reduce prices, both of which people are calling for. If we do not drill, we can keep the environment pristine and eliminate the chance of a catastrophic oil spill destroying the surrounding ecosystems. In my opinion President Bush is making the right call. It may make some people upset but I believe it is inevitable that drilling will begin at some point at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At some point the pain at the gas pump will be too high and we will look the other way on the environment. Now is as good a time as any.


JR Ewing said...

It's funny how people are always so concerned with the surface impact of oil extraction. If they had ever been out to an actual well site, they would see how small the affected surface area is. (usually about an acre per wellsite) Using horizontal drilling practices that are in wide use today, it's possible to have multiple horizontal wells drilled from one surface site, reducing the impact on the surface further. I don't think a few pumpjacks in the middle of the ANWR will bother the polar bears too much.

M. King Hubbert said...

Please correct me if I erred in these numbers, as I just did these calculations very quickly.

A USGS study of the technically recoverable oil in the ANWR Coastal Plain estimates, at the high end (5% probability), that there are potentially 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. A summary of the study is found here.

In class we learned that the US consumes ~21 MMBD, which equates to ~7.7 billion barrels annually.

The ANWR recoverable oil would cover us for potentially 2 years (aggregate). Would this time and money be better invested in the development of alternative technologies?

Bonnie Beavers said...

Hubbert, I agree with you. Is it worth the time and money for two years of oil?

Not to mention the extinction of the polar bears. The Interior Department's Environmental Impact Statement says the chance of a spill occurring during Alaskan drilling and extraction ranges from 33-51%. Also, if a large spill occurs, there would be significant impacts to the polar bears.

The plan is to sell the drilling rights on February 6th. Representative Ed Markey, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, spoke out against the White House's planned sale. Markey states that "...every time there is a choice between extraction and extinction..., extraction wins."

Why should this be the case? Drilling should not be taking place in an environment that is home to a nearly endangered species. We are all well aware that though the polars bears are not yet considered endangered they are practically "on the waiting list." And my problem with this is that if they were already on that list, if they were already considered endangered, drilling in that area would not be an option. So, I'm not sure I understand why it is now.

The article i referenced can be found at

I am sure the other students were referencing this article as well.


Bonnie Beavers