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Jeffersonian - Students debate oil drilling in ANWR: Drilling could help

Do you think that Americans should help their country? Do you think that if given the opportunity to help the economy, you would? We, as Americans, have been given the chance to do just that. Land within America has been found to hold an unthinkable amount of oil. Protected by federal law to be left alone as a wildlife refuge, the land cannot be opened for drilling. The Alaskan population has shown support of drilling in their land. If we do drill, it will cut the cost of oil, cut the amount of foreign oil imports and create billions of dollars for the struggling economy.

In a desolate part of Alaska, there's a chunk of land that has been set aside as a last pure piece of land untouched by man. This wildlife refuge, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), covers more than 18 million acres across Alaska. Underneath this land, there is enough oil to stop our dependence on foreign oil. Environmentalists and those who favor drilling have been fighting over ANWR since 1977. Getting rid of dependence on foreign oil makes all Americans smile. Today, we import nearly 65 percent of our oil, which costs us about $55 billion a year. And, we could be importing up to 80 percent by 2010. Underneath ANWR, scientists estimate that there is between six and 13 billion barrels of oil. With this much oil, we could produce 1.5 million barrels per day for at least 25 years. This would save us $14 billion a year in imports. America has also been trying to find alternatives to oil. If we were to drill in ANWR, there are about 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that we would be able to access. We have listened to environmentalists say that drilling would ruin the land. But in a recent poll, 75 percent of the Alaskan population supports drilling. Alaska's former governor, George Nasuayaaq said, "We know that ANWR holds resources that can be safely extracted without destruction to the ecosystem."

There are only a few species of animals that roam this area and most of them just pass through while migrating. Prudhoe Bay, a site of drilling in Alaska, has seen the population of caribou increase from 3,000 to 23,400 because of strict protection laws. The amount of space needed to drill is like a grain of sand on the beach. In the vast 18 million acres, there would be only 1.5 set aside for drilling. Of that, only 2,000 would be touched by oil rigs. Recent technological advancements have made it possible for wells to be placed 15 feet apart, rather than 100 feet apart like it was 40 years ago. This cuts the amount of land needed by 60 percent.

Drilling in ANWR would save $14 billion each year. We wouldn't have to rely on foreign countries. We would help boost the Alaskan economy and give thousands of people jobs. All of this would be done without harming the environment or offending the natives of the land. With this information, would you, if given the chance, help America?