Thursday, December 15, 2005

Caribou - Get Some!

I think George Will’s column about drilling in ANWR raises some interesting questions, even if his thesis is bunk. In it, he claims that opposition to drilling in Alaska is truly about promoting collectivism. If you want to accuse environmentalists of being overly naive, resting on the belief that we can accommodate all of our needs without using oil, coal, or nuclear power, I can agree. But suggesting the debate isn’t even about that is ludicrous.

What I truly wonder about though is how much oil ANWR could really supply for us. I think the possibility of decreasing our dependence on foreign oil outweighs any concerns over caribou mating patterns. But I have long been under the impression that the oil available in Alaska will do almost nothing towards that end. In Will’s column though, he suggests that the oil available is in fact significant.

The estimated 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil -- such estimates frequently underestimate actual yields -- could supply all the oil needs of Kerry's Massachusetts for 75 years.

Flowing at 1 million barrels a day -- equal to 20 percent of today's domestic oil production -- ANWR oil would almost equal America's daily imports from Saudi Arabia. And it would equal the supply loss that Hurricane Katrina temporarily caused, and that caused so much histrionic distress among consumers.

Both sides seem to use cheeky examples like the above to demonstrate the relative abundance or scarcity of oil in Alaska. I guess I need to do some of my own research to determine how much oil is potentially available in ANWR (since I certainly can’t trust Will, and I am equally skeptical of claims from the environmental groups of the left). Issues like this would be a lot easier to discuss if there was some consensus on available facts.