September 24, 2002
The Honorable Billy Tauzin
Conference Committee on the Energy Policy Act of 2002
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Tauzin:
We write to express our support for the provision in the House version of H. R. 4, the Energy Policy Act of 2002, to allow oil and gas exploration in 2000 acres of the coastal plain of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We think that the possibility that oil supplies from the Persian Gulf states could be disrupted because of U.S. military intervention in Iraq makes the case for developing new domestic petroleum supplies urgent and compelling, although we recognize that it will take several years for production to begin in ANWR. The Congress should exercise more foresight in this regard than President Clinton did in 1995 when he vetoed similar legislation to open the coastal plain to exploration.
The USGS estimates that the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain may contain between 5.7 and 16 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil, with a mean estimate of 10.4 billion barrels, plus similarly large quantities of natural gas. Although environmental pressure groups claim that this is an insignificant amount of energy compared to America’s total energy consumption, the USGS upper estimate is equivalent to approximately thirty years of oil imports from Saudi Arabia, our largest foreign supplier. Even the lower USGS estimate dwarfs expected total U. S. production from all non-hydro renewable sources of energy.
Preservationist claims that oil production in ANWR will destroy pristine wilderness, threaten the caribou herd, and cause widespread environmental degradation are either false or grossly exaggerated. The coastal plain is not wilderness. It contains an Inupiat Eskimo village and the remains of several military installations. The pristine wilderness in ANWR lies far to the south and is protected by congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas. The caribou herd at Prudhoe Bay has flourished and grown during the period of oil production there. There has not been any major environmental degradation at Prudhoe Bay, despite predictions in the 1970s to the contrary, and the exploration and production technology that will be used in ANWR is much safer, cleaner, and more advanced than that used at Prudhoe Bay.
The rights of the Inupiat who live on the coastal plain should not be disregarded. They own land within ANWR and would share in the royalties from oil and gas production. If the Congress cannot agree on the provision in the House bill, simple justice demands that the Inupiat be allowed to initiate exploration on their own lands.
We wish you complete success in negotiating a conference report that will allow and encourage America’s energy industries to continue to provide abundant and affordable energy to American consumers. We believe that the ANWR provision is a crucial part of that effort. Thank you for considering our views.
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Americans for Tax Reform
National Taxpayers Union
Citizens for a Sound Economy
James L. Martin
60 Plus Association
Energy Stewardship Alliance
Frontiers of Freedom
Charles S. Cushman
American Land Rights Association
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
F. Patricia Callahan
American Association of Small Property Owners
Alex St. James
African American Republican Leadership Council
Steven C. Borrell
Alaska Miners Association
National Anxiety Center
Visit www.cei.org for more information on ANWR drilling.