Chris Jones Mary Rotella ENGL 101 - 66 16 November 2006 Do You Like Killing Caribou So Americans Can Drive

SUVs? In the middle of the Alaskan Wilderness is a large desolate-looking tundra. Nothing is moving except the snow dancing in the wind. In the middle of this desolate wilderness, innumerable animals and plants are somehow surviving as they have been doing since before humankind arrived. Here in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge these plants and animals have been surviving in the same way for centuries in the Earth's last remaining ice age ecosystem. Underneath all of this flora and fauna is a repository of oil. Certain groups of people want to disrupt this delicate ecosystem and drill for this oil. Though there are benefits to drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, the benefits are minimal compared to the damage we would cause by disrupting the fragile ecosystem with a large oil extraction plant. The Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is the largest national wildlife park in the United States. It is comprised of 19 millions acres of land, of which 17.5 million acres is permanently closed to development. The land that would be designated for oil development is 1.5 millions acres in size�about the size of Delaware (�What is ANWR�)�and is along the coastal area of the refuge. At the widest points of the coastal area, it is approximately 100 miles wide and at its deepest point, it is approximately 30 miles deep (�What is ANWR�). According to the United States Geological Survey, there are 6.4 billion barrels of oil that it would be possible to extricate from the coastal area (area 1002). At the United States current rate of consumption, 20.03 million barrels per day (�Oil Consumption by Country�), the oil in area 1002 would last for less than one year, and then we would be right back where we started except that we would have disrupted innumerable migratory birds breeding and caribou births. Even though area 1002 would not generate enough oil to last one full year, it would still produce more oil per day than any other state. In Texas, the state that currently produces the most oil per day, they extract 1,065,753 barrels per day. Once area 1002 reached it full potential, it would produce 1,369,863 barrels per day. That would nearly be nearly as much oil as we import from Canada, 1,420,000 barrels, every day(�ANWR Chart�, 2). It is a fact that in area 1002, there are over 130 migratory birds that have breeding grounds. There are also 45 different species of mammals that live in the refuge. The most

impacted land mammal would be the Porcupine caribou, which travels to its ancestral breeding ground, the coastal plain region, every May and remains there until July. The proposed drilling for oil would take place in the middle of the path that the Porcupine caribou take each spring to reach their breeding ground. This drilling operation would not just be something that the caribou could go around either. The Department of the Interior has estimated that over 12,500 acres would be directly affected by the drilling process including: oil pipelines, roads, power plants, airports and refineries. This would extend over several hundred square miles. The fragile ecosystem simply could not handle this kind of destruction. While drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil for a little while, there are not enough long-term benefits to justify upsetting the fragile Alaskan ecosystem. Works Cited "ANWR Chart." Department of Interior. 16 Nov. 2006 <>. �Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1002 Area, Petroleum Assessment, 1998, Including Economic Analysis�. United States Geological Survey. 16 Nov. 2006 <>. �Journey North Caribou�. 16 Nov. 2006 <>. �Oil consumption by country�. 16 Nov. 2006 <>. �What is ANWR and Where is the coastal plain?�. <>. 16 Nov. 2006

Pinsker, Lisa M. �Caribou study charges energy debate� GeoTimes June (2002): 32-47

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