The ANWR Myth
April 30, 2008
Reuters has a nice rundown of why George Bush's claim that gas prices are a result of Democrats' refusal to allow oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge is just so much horsepuckey:
President George W. Bush during his first year in office made giving energy companies access to the estimated 10 billion barrels of crude in the refuge the centerpiece of his national energy policy that sprouted from Vice President Dick Cheney's controversial and secretive energy task force.
With gasoline prices soaring to records in recent weeks, Bush has stepped up his argument that ANWR oil is a solution.
"We should have been exploring for oil and gas in ANWR," he said last week when asked about record pump costs. "But, no, we made the decision and our Congress kept preventing us from opening up new areas to explore in environmentally friendly ways and now we're becoming, as a result, more and more dependent on foreign sources of oil."
Congress has tried several times in Bush's two terms to pass legislation to finally open the refuge to energy exploration, but always fell a few votes short due in part to concern over what drilling would do to ANWR's wildlife.
"They've repeatedly blocked environmentally safe exploration in ANWR," Bush complained to reporters on Tuesday at a Rose Garden press conference. He said oil supplies from the refuge "would likely mean lower gas prices."
The Energy Information Administration, which is the Energy Department's independent analytical arm, estimated that if Congress had cleared Bush's ANWR drilling plan the oil would have been available to refiners in 2011, but only at a small volume of 40,000 barrels a day -- a drop in the bucket compared with the 20.6 million barrels the U.S. consumes daily.
At peak production, ANWR could have potentially added 780,000 barrels a day to U.S. crude oil output by 2020, according to the EIA.
The extra supplies would have cut dependence on foreign oil, but only slightly. With ANWR crude, imports would have met 60 percent of U.S. oil demand in 2020, down from 62 percent without the refuge's supplies.