Let’s face it. Our world today is run on fossil fuels. At the top of that list is oil. We need more of it and we’re willing to pay to get it. That’s why the pros and cons of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are often considered. At nearly 20 million acres in size, the site has an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil that could be recovered. Here’s why we could proceed and why not drilling could be a better option as well.
The Pros of Drilling in the ANWR
1. There is enough acreage to prevent wildlife disruption.
The goal of a nature preserve is to give wildlife a natural habitat that is protected. With millions of acres of space, there’s enough room to drill and still allow those habitats to exist.
2. It would create an extensive domestic oil source.
Foreign imports of oil cost Americans billions of dollars every year. Drilling in the ANWR would help to keep more of those dollars at home while building up reserves or even beginning to export oil overseas for added economic benefits.
3. It would create jobs.
The labor estimates for drilling in the ANWR show that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be necessary to make this happen. Those are paychecks for struggling families who will spend many of their funds locally, enhancing the economic benefit of drilling.
The Cons of Drilling in the ANWR
1. Estimated resources are not confirmed resources.
Although 10 billion barrels of oil are thought to be in the ANWR, there is no way to confirm this estimate. It is possible that drillers could find absolutely nothing, creating a waste of money and unnecessary damage to the environment.
2. It uses up a potential reserve.
At the moment, the reserves in the ANWR are not needed for daily consumption. We have enough oil to meet our needs at this moment. It may be more wise to leave the oil in place in case a future need develops.
3. It doesn’t change the fact that oil is a finite resource.
One day the world will need to transition to renewable energy resources. Tapping into another oil reserve won’t change that, but it will distract people from the issue of over-consumption.
The pros and cons of drilling in the ANWR will typically fall along political party and environmental lines. Maybe it could lower the price of oil or lessen US dependence on foreign reserves. Is the cost of doing so worth it? That is the answer we must each determine for ourselves.