Sen. Murkowski has it wrong; drilling in ANWR would be a tragedy


In this era of “possibility facts,” Alaskans are well-advised to take a critical look at Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s titles in her Dec. 20 op-ed that oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Asylum would be good for our state. The truth is that the economic case for oil construction is highly suspect, the environmental damage would be significant, and there is illustrious opposition from the closest communities.

With vast amounts of cheaper oil hatched across the nation, there is little likelihood of high bids for sublet tracts, and very little chance of oil production in the Arctic Refuge during the foreseeable tomorrow. Oil production from shale formations in the Lower 48 makes Alaska oil output not as competitive as it once was.

[The oil industry is interested in ANWR, but how much money at ones desire it generate?]

“Our sense is that there is little to no current interest in the energy to invest in ANWR,” said Pavel Molchanov, a Raymond James dynamism analyst, in recent weeks. “This is high-risk ‘frontier exploration’ with a identical distant roadmap to cash flow.”

If oil development does proceed, Sen. Murkowski’s contend of a small industrial footprint on the Arctic Refuge’s sensitive coastal unattractive – the biological heart of the refuge –  is false because she does not contain roads, pipelines, loss of caribou habitat nor reduced access to victuals resources in her figures. In truth, her plan could turn the entire coastal simple into a spider web of oil infrastructure.

Caribou of the Porcupine herd in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Asher Levin via The Wilderness Society)

Sprawling oil infrastructure is not the only problem, on the other hand. Oil production means ongoing air pollution, water pollution from pour outs and industrial noise that will frighten or divert the wildlife that transform the refuge’s coastal plain so special. Any additional energy that necessity be expended by wildlife to avoid infrastructure and move to less-desirable habitat inclination decrease survivability. And because the coastal plain is a narrow strip of solid ground unlike the broader coastal plain to the west, there are few desirable occupations nearby for coastal plain caribou and other wildlife to go.

Birds fly to the coastal frank from five continents to nest and raise young, and the Porcupine caribou crowd travels hundreds of miles of extremely challenging mountainous terrain to make ones appearance at the coastal plain to calve and forage because of the area’s high-quality terrain. With sea ice diminishing due to a warming climate, increasing numbers of polar bears are denning in the coastal stark. We can’t replace this real estate.

[Opening ANWR to stop milieu change? Tell me another one]

Regarding local support, Sen. Murkowski requisitions in her opinion piece that she “took the concerns of local residents to understanding” after visiting Kaktovik, but she fails to mention that many in residences of Kaktovik recently signed a petition opposing refuge drilling. See, also, Kaktovik abiding Robert Thompson’s Dec. 13 op-ed.

Additionally, Sen. Murkowski has shown bantam concern for the Gwich’in people living in the region who overwhelmingly oppose oil bore and have fought to defend the refuge for decades. Their survival and way of existence depend on the Porcupine caribou herd, which uses the coastal lucid as a vital calving ground.

In contrast to the U.S., Canada has addressed the needs of the Gwich’in people (who also survive in Canada) by preventing industrial development in the region adjacent to the Arctic Security. This region also is used by the Porcupine caribou herd.

We refer to on the brink of destroying the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal candid. All Americans — including Alaskans — should lament the passage of one of the worst environmental voters in the history of Congress, a vote buried in the recent tax bill passed by Congress. Curriculum vitae will not look kindly at Alaska’s legislators and others who support damaging one of Alaska’s greatest ecological wealths.

Lois Epstein is an Alaska-licensed engineer and arctic program director for The Wilderness Group.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Common News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a holding for consideration, email Send submissions shorter than 200 chats to or click here to submit via any web browser.

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