According to the University of North Carolina
, the land that was eventually to be known as ANWR was originally demarkated in 1923, whereupon it was christened "Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4." In 1952, some scientists recognized the potential for this area as a Wildlife Reserve and the Feds devided Reserve #4 into two; one area for oil and gas production, the other for wildlife. It seems that oil production in the non-wildlife half exceeded expectations. This led some to suspect that ANWR held more than expected as well. Since before 1980, folks have been trying to open up ANWR to drilling.
How much oil might there be in ANWR? The reserve's own website
, I find that there might be anywhere from 4.8b barrels (600m recoverable) to 29.4b barrels (9.2b recoverable). To put that in context, in 2000, the US used close to 7b barrels of oil. Since oil consumption grows each year, it may be the case that we now have abour 3 years' worth of oil in ANWR, 1 year's worth of which is easily accessable.
That's a fair amount, but hardly makes the difference between sustainable and unsustainable for our current direction of oil consumption. It sure seems to me that if folks were keeping the longer outlook in mind, they would spend more time weening this country off oil and less time debating about 1 year's worth of crude.
That being said, the other part of the argument is hard to make, too. I am sure that the world needs wildlfe. I love my blue hills and would be sad if they disappeared. But ANWR is rather in the middle of nowhere and is surrounded by... other Wildlife Reserves. Exactly how much of Alaska needs to be cordoned off ? Kanuti, for example, is about the size of Delaware. The "Gates of the Arctic" are about 8 million acres, or larger than 9 states. I couldn't find a website to make it easy, but I imagine that if you were to add up all of the reserves in Alaska, the conglomerate would be larger than most states.
I am sure that ANWR has wildlife that is unique, but I imagine that Boston would also, were we to allow nature to reclaim it. To argue that we need to leave ANWR as ANWR is no slam dunk.
Still, I mightily look forward to seeing ANWR with my own virtual eyes. Given that the issue has been well debated for more than 25 years, I am reasonably optimistic that I will get to ANWR before the Exxon.
11,800 steps today. Cheers,