How Much More Can We Squeeze

For years, energy money interests have tried getting their greedy little hands on the oil thought to exist on the 1.5 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They have always been thwarted. This year, thanks to a sneaky trick, the Republicans will likely give it to them.

A few days ago, Arctic drilling was made into a budget measure. Today, the US budget has an amendment opening up the wildlife reserve in Alaska to oil companies, according to CNN, that cannot be fought by filibuster. So basically, if we want a US budget, we have to give the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge over to oil companies.

They tried to do this same thing last year, but failed.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), a part of the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a report in May of 2000 assessing the ANWR energy potential.

The report estimates it is likely a total of 10 billion barrels of oil exist in ANWR. Certainly not more than 16 billion barrels.

Interesting, we currently have almost 700 million barrels tucked away in storage, in our Strategic Petrolium Reserve. We consume over 20 million barrels per day. ANWR peak production, reached after almost a decade, will only be 1 million barrels per day – and by that time, our daily consumption will be up considerably. It will only be a tiny fraction of what we use, even at peak.

So why would we go through so much trouble, risking environmental harm, for a maximum return of 10 billion barrels?

Well, if you go to you’ll see that this wildlife refuge is actually “jobs and energy for America”.

In other words, the oil was valued at around $300 billion. However, since the Iraq War began, oil prices have jumped considerably, as we all know. As such, the value of the oil in ANWR is more like $500 billion now.

When oil prices were lower, it was not wholly economically viable for a company to drill in ANWR. But since the war, and the subsequent increase in oil prices, this has changed.

It’s not that we need this little bit of oil all that much more. It’s that it’s market value has gone up considerably in the last year.

We all know Bush has always been with oil and energy interests. In 2001, an energy task force group known as the National Energy Policy Development Group, headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, issued a report recommending we expand domestic energy production, even though we have very little oil resources left. We had stopped doing this because it was not economically viable any more. But with the recent increase in oil prices, we can sqeeze more oil out locally for a profit.

The US government subsidized US oil companies with tens of billions per year. Yet, the new budget this year cuts subsidies to US farmers, education and even police and firefighters.

Nobody would argue that having energy resources is important – our lives depend on it. Nobody would argue that controlling our own energy resources is more secure than relying on other countries.

But we have depleated our own oil reserves. There is no sensible argument to justify exploiting ANWR, its wildlife and incredibly beautiful environment, other than oil industry profit.

At least there are some good programs related to energy in the next budget, which include hydrogen fuel research, fusion research, and hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

Just please, don’t give the few nice little parts of our planet that remain over to dying oil companies, just so they can turn a little more profit before the end.