CFIF Urges House Republicans to Reinstate ANWR Into Budget Bill

In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and 25 House Republicans, CFIF this week urged them to reinstate the provision to open ANWR to responsible oil and gas exploration into the House Budget Bill.

November 16, 2005


The Honorable Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20510

Re: Reinstating ANWR into the House Budget Bill

Dear Speaker Hastert:

On behalf of more than 250,000 CFIF supporters and activists from across the country, I am writing to urge you to reinstate the provision to open a tiny portion of the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to responsible oil and gas exploration into the House Budget Bill.

Last week, to the dismay of the large majority of Americans who support opening ANWR, as many as 25 House Republicans caved to the pressure and unfounded claims of radical environmentalists and threatened to join with the Democrats in opposition to the entire House Budget Bill unless the ANWR provision was stripped from the legislation.  

America's energy consumption has grown at twice the rate of domestic production since the energy crisis in the 1970s.  Yet more than half of our nation's oil is currently imported from nations and regions plagued by instability and turmoil such as Venezuela and the Middle East.  In fact, U.S. imports have risen to between 58%-64% of all oil consumed in this country, depending on the time of year.  And, as America's oil consumption increases by more than two percent each year, thanks to a growing economy, without more domestic production, imports will continue to skyrocket. 

Moreover, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita recently exposed the vulnerability of America's energy infrastructure when production was disrupted in the Gulf of Mexico, an area that represents 28 percent of America's domestic oil production.

According to geological experts, ANWR has the largest untapped oil potential for new domestic production in the country.  Based on mean estimates by the United States Geological Survey, ANWR would produce at least 10.4 billion barrels of new oil, and some experts predict that ANWR's production potential could be as high as 27 billion barrels.  To put 10.4 billion barrels into perspective, each of 29 states could run on ANWR oil alone for more than a century.  The District of Columbia could run on ANWR oil alone for more than 1,704 years.  (See attached chart.) ANWR oil could replace more than 30 years worth of imports from Saudi Arabia.   

Simply put, opening ANWR to responsible, environmentally-sound oil and gas exploration would not only help to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, but it would also help to alleviate future price spikes and fuel shortages by diversifying and increasing domestic production.  In the nearly 30 years of production in Prudhoe Bay, located just 50 miles west of ANWR's coastal plain, there have been no delays in production caused by Mother Nature. 

ANWR brings the added benefit of dramatically boosting America's economy as well.  It's estimated that more than 736,000 new American jobs would be created by opening ANWR to responsible oil and gas exploration - jobs that would be created in all 50 states.  Since every sector of the U.S. and global economies is dependent on energy to grow and thrive, the production of new oil in ANWR would help all industries, adding even more jobs and generating more tax revenue for federal, state and local governments.

Conservative estimates state that ANWR would bring $29.2 billion in new tax revenue to the federal government and $31.4 billion in new revenues to state governments in the first 15 years of operation.  At peak production, states would gain over $3 billion and the federal government would gain $2.8 billion in new revenues per year from ANWR - all without raising taxes.

We understand that pressure from ANWR opponents, including radical environmental groups - which have raised tens of millions of dollars during the past two decades on this issue alone - has been intense.  Nevertheless, their arguments against drilling are baseless and at times hypocritical.  Oil production in ANWR would be performed under the strictest environmental guidelines in the world and with the latest advancements in drilling technology, ensuring no long-term negative environmental impact. 

Indeed, one of the most persistent arguments made against opening ANWR by environmental groups and Gwich'in Spokesperson Sarah James has been the alleged potential threat to the Porcupine Caribou herd.  But, since the onset of Prudhoe Bay development, the population of the Central Arctic Caribou herd, which migrates directly through the oil fields, has increased from 5,000 in 1978 to over 32,000 today.  It's also important to note that the greatest threat to the Porcupine Caribou herd, other than extreme weather conditions, are the Gwitch'in themselves, who hunt the herd for food and clothing. 

According to a special report published by CFIF, the Gwich'in, who do not live in ANWR, did not always oppose oil exploration in the region. The Gwich'in, in fact, actively sought oil exploration on some of their own lands, signing or pursuing contracts on at least three separate occasions with  major oil companies in the 1970s and 1980s, until it was determined that there is no oil under those Gwich'in lands. Undeterred, the Gwich'in then proposed leasing oil rights to all their lands, but no one took them up on their offer. 

The truth is, according to a recent poll done by The Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Americans expressed "solid" support for developing new energy sources in the United States.  Over 75 percent of Alaskans support responsible oil development of ANWR's coastal plain.  And there is overwhelming support in the Arctic North Slope, ANWR's home district.

One Alaskan native and CFIF supporter recently summed up the situation in her letter to me that read:

"We Alaskans who support drilling in ANWR are the silenced majority. The media and radical environmentalists have turned a deaf ear to our voices. They send their operatives into the villages to find one native who is against drilling and parade them around like they speak for the majority of Alaskans and the native population."

Opening ANWR to responsible, environmentally-sound oil development is vital to America's security and economy.  Again, on behalf of CFIF's supporters and activists, I urge you to reinstate the ANWR provision into the House Budget Bill without delay.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Jeffrey Mazzella


[Posted November 17 , 2005
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