Debate On Alaska Oil

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Is Artic Plunder Armed Robbery? The new Republican majority has brought the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's (ARWR) oil exploration ban to center stage. Alaska's all Republican Congressional delegation has vowed to repeal the 22-year old ban on the export of the state's North Slope oil. The proposed legislation has caused a political earthquake to shake through the Clinton Administration, which opposes the bill. If passed, the law would have important ramifications outside Washington, D.C. These could certainly include allowing companies to drill in Alaska's Northern Slope--boosting the revenues of American oil companies that would like to explore the area for petroleum. Expansion of the oil industry in the Northern Slope would also create thousands of jobs and decrease U.S. dependency on oil imports from politically turbulent Middle Eastern countries. While some Democrats from oil producing states would support reducing this dependency, many of them oppose looking to the ANWR to solve the problem.

Both sides have fired up their political engines as Congressional panels consider the ANWR oil ban legislation. This legislation, no matter how great the benefits of it may seem, cannot be thrust forward without careful study.

The ANWR, which was signed into law in 1973 by president Richard Nixon, has remained controversial even since then. Supporters of an end to the oil export ban have proposed many bills that would repeal it. In 1992, oil ban repeal supporters pushed ANWR drilling legislation through the Senate Energy Committee for the first time.

The 1992 election of Bill Clinton to the U.S. presidency and the Democrats' gains in both the Senate and the House of Representatives seemed to eliminate the possibility of the ANWR being repealed. But the 1994 mid-term elections changed the political outlook in Washington, D.C. Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) became chair of the Senate Committee...