A Tale of Two Hearings: Drill, Baby, Drill in Washington; Protect ANWR in Alaska


New day, new made-up reasons to drill in Washington, and an unprecedented turnout of Arctic Refuge wilderness supporters in Anchorage.

Written by Neil Shader in Washington DC and Tim Woody in Anchorage

It seems that Big Oil and their Congressional allies are relentless. When it comes to drilling in the Arctic Refuge, there is never a crisis for which drilling isn’t the answer. High oil prices? Drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Too few jobs in America? Drill the Arctic Refuge. The latest – what can we do to reduce the deficit? – has the same answer – “drill ANWR.”

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Sept. 21 to discuss opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, and using the revenue to pay down the federal deficit. As with many of these hearings, there was heated rhetoric from both sides. While drilling promoters trotted out questionable jobs statistics, defenders of the Arctic Refuge quickly pointed out flaws in the arguments – many of them stemming from inflated numbers in an oil-industry produced jobs report.

(For more on myths from the oil industry, check our True Grit series)

“It’s not creative. It’s not new,” said Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters of the idea to drill in the Arctic Refuge. Karpinski and David Jenkins of Republicans for Environmental Protection defended the Arctic Refuge from the pro-drilling witnesses, including the Alaska congressional delegation, noting that the sky-high estimates of available oil and job creation potential were suspect at best, and would have devastating impacts on the Arctic Refuge.

But while members of Congress argued in Washington, another hearing was taking place across the country, showing how much support the Arctic Refuge has in Alaska.

In Anchorage, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted a public hearing on the Arctic Refuge’s draft revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan, and people who spoke in favor of wilderness protection for the Coastal Plain and other parts of the refuge outnumbered the pro-drilling crowd by a margin of 2 to 1.

Many Gwich’in tribal members attended, and a wide array of citizens spoke passionately about their love for the refuge and the importance of preserving it in pristine condition for future generations. Instead of pleas for short-term gains in oil revenue and jobs, the majority of Alaskans at the hearing called for responsible stewardship of wildlife, the preservation of a unique and irreplaceable landscape, and protections for Native culture and subsistence ways of life.

The message from Alaskans was clear: The Arctic Refuge is too special to sacrifice for oil.

The question is, will anyone in Washington listen?


Related Stories:

What if Ecocide Were a Punishable Crime?

Wildlife is Footing the Bill for Our Oil and Coal Addiction

Federal Government Less Popular Than Oil and Gas Industry



federico bortoletto

Grazie delle informazioni.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

The most likely replacement for petroleum is the GE high-yield oil algae, ExxonMobil paid Craig Venter to invent for them. I would much rather the federal government heavily subsidize ExxonMobil to develop bio-diesel from algae as a commercial product than subsidize the oil industry in general to continue drilling for petroleum. I would help if the federal government would replace non-tariff regulation with excise taxes designed to capture all costs imposed on society. Making the transition all at once is likely to tank the economy. So it will be necessary to phase the excise tax in and phase the non-tariff regulations out at the same speed. The idea is to make fossil fuels more expensive relative to sustainable energy options.

Carole R.
Carole R.4 years ago

Noted. Thank you.

Wendy B.
Wendy B.4 years ago

John H. - I said I'm looking into solar, but it is still too pricey. As I said if there were other alternatives available, I'd take it in a heartbeat. I can not make those alternatives - DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THIS??????? We would have these alternatives already if it were not for the oil and gas companies putting a halt to it!! Nevermind, just end this conversation, you're mind can not comprehend what I am saying. And I am more then willing to pay for other energy sources, but the only one available right now is solar, which I said is pricey right now, but will probably come down soon. And if not, I will probably invest in it anynway.

john hall
john hall4 years ago

Wendy Like I said you want the government to do it for you when you can pay to do it yourself agh but then you would have to spend your money and you and most others don't want to do this .

Wendy B.
Wendy B.4 years ago

John H. - obviously you are not getting the point. There should have been other choices by now if it wasn't for the oil and gas companies. Even if I completely got off fossill fuels, the rest of the country is not and drilling will just keep happening. We need alternatives and I am not a scientist and can not do it myself. The government needs to help with that and they wom't right now because of the control by these companies. I think it is vital we stop destroying this planet for energy that is affecting us all. Because if we do not have a sustainable environment that we can live in to survive, then we are all doomed. Go read Jim G.'s post, he has some very good points too.

Snezana Miletic
Snezana Miletic4 years ago

No more drilling!

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright4 years ago

NO MORE DRILLING..........the animals and the environment cannot afford the devastation it brings with it.

john hall
john hall4 years ago

Wendy B. you can cut your electricity off and go all solar , drive a electric car , plant a garden you can fossil fuels or crude oil out of your life by 70 to 80% . the problem i have with people they grip about a product that they use they want goverment to do it do it yourself .

Wendy B.
Wendy B.4 years ago

Oh and if I could John H., I would love to get off fossill fuels. If you read my other post, I explained why we can't just yet because we don't have the alternatives that we should have had by now if it wasn't for the oil and gas companies controlling the government!!