Earlier today I posted two threads with photos from Arctic Refuge Action Day in Washington. The rally was hosted by the Wilderness Society and other conservation groups and was held on Capitol Hill. John Kerry was one of the featured speakers at the event. The photo threads can be found here and here.
Republicans want us to believe that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be of benefit to the economy and reduce oil dependence. It’s simply not true. What it is, is more of the same old, same old, Bush Corporate Cronyism. (Kerry talked about this briefly yesterday, in his speech at Brown University.)
Here is the text of John Kerry’s remarks today, as prepared for delivery:
I would like to start this afternoon by thanking all of you for making the journey to Washington and for having the dedication to come all the way to Congress with your message about the importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling — a policy we should not be pursuing through backdoor efforts. In fact, we shouldn’t be doing this at all.
There’s been a lot said about the Arctic Refuge during this debate. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge can be done in an environmentally-friendly manner. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge will bring gas prices down at the pump. And we’ve even heard that drilling in the Refuge belongs in the national budget because of the revenues from the lease sales.
Now I’m going to tell you why each one of these arguments is false.
By definition, an industrial zone and wilderness cannot occupy the same space. In 1960, the Eisenhower administration first recognized the extraordinary wilderness value of the area, and the Arctic Refuge was established to protect its unique wildlife and landscape. Building a massive oil field in the Refuge would clearly violate this fundamental purpose.
Drilling proponents claim they would open only 2,000 acres to the oil corporations, but in fact the entire 1.5 million acre “1002 area” would be opened to leasing and exploration.
Oil companies want you to think that whatever oil may be found in the Refuge is in one compact area. But, as with the North Slope oil fields west of the Arctic Refuge, development would sprawl over a very large area and stretch across the coastal plain.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, potential oil under the coastal plain is not concentrated in one large reservoir, but is spread across the coastal plain in many small deposits. To produce oil from this vast area, networks of pipelines and roads will be built and will the habitat of the entire coastal plain.
It is true that new drilling technology is more efficient and less harmful to the environment, but its advantages have been exaggerated. Even new technology, like directional drilling, will do irrevocable damage to the Refuge. Permanent gravel roads and busy airports are still used for access, and production wells scattered across more than a million acres of coastal plain must be connected by pipelines. And the entire complex would produce more air pollution than the City of Washington.
No matter how well done, oil development has significant and lasting impacts on the environment. The industry itself has admitted as much. None other than BP has said, “We can’t develop fields and keep wilderness.”
And if the facts and the frank admission of an oil company isn’t enough, my colleagues should know that the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Interior and many others have all made the same conclusion.
Repeatedly we’ve heard claims that opening the Arctic Refuge will fundamentally reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is simply wrong. The President Bush’s own Energy Information Administration found that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would only reduce oil imports from 62 percent to 60 percent of our total oil supply at its peak of production in 2020. Everyone should understand that in its peak year, for a single year, about 2020, drilling might, under an optimistic estimate, reduce our dependence by about 2 percent.
The price of oil will not drop. The price of energy will not drop. The price of gasoline will not drop. Our vulnerability to world prices and world unrest and dangerous regimes will not change. And after that single fleeting year, the flow of oil from the Refuge energy will start its decline as the reserves are depleted.
Ninety-five percent of Alaska’s North Slope is already open to drilling and exploration. The idea that drilling the last five percent will alter the global oil markets is wrong. It is simply a fact we must face as a nation that we cannot drill our way to independence—whether we drill in the Refuge or every backyard in America.
America produces just 3 percent of the world’s oil, yet we consume 25 percent of that supply.
We cannot escape the fact that this proposal would add nothing to our oil supply for ten years. And ten years from now, just like today, oil prices in the United States will be set at the world market.
The Department of Energy has estimated that Arctic Refuge drilling might reduce world oil prices by 30 to 50 cents per barrel That amount will be easily lost to any supply restriction, whether it be OPEC, weather or conflict, and any demand jump. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge will change the price of oil and gas as much as pouring a cup of water into the ocean will raise the tide.
And presumably, since the Republicans have attached this proposal to the budget, they now want us to believe that drilling in the Refuge is about the federal debt. In other words, we actually need the revenue to balance the budget. That may be the biggest hoax of them all. This is an abuse of the budget process.
The Republican Party is mortgaging America’s future. In four years they have run the government into massive, historic debt. Record surpluses are now record deficits. And now, today, they’re selling off America’s national lands to the highest bidder. It will start with Arctic Refuge, but it won’t stop there. Piece-by-piece, false claim-by-false claim, national resources and natural treasurers will go on the auction block. It will be a fire sale.
I believe that a place as special as the Arctic Refuge should be passed on to our children, not sacrificed for an amount of oil that would not dent our imports or affect oil prices for consumers. America’s future demands real solutions to our energy needs, such as making our vehicles more efficient and investing in clean renewable technology.
I will be fighting with my colleagues and with you to protect America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We have to wake up and realize what ConocoPhillips and British Petroleum did when they recently stated publicly what energy producers have been saying in private all along: drilling in the Arctic Refuge just isn’t worth it.
1) ArcticRefugeAction.org – Keep Drilling out of the Arctic Refuge and the Budget Reconciliation!
2) SaveBioGems.org – Tell your senators and representative to oppose oil development in the Arctic Refuge.