Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
In the 1950s, George Collins, a National Park Service planner, and Lowell Sumner, a biologist, united efforts and conscripted both the Wilderness Society President, Olaus Murie, and his wife, Margaret Murie, in order to protect this Alaska territory. The movement was later joined by thousands of conservationists famous at those times. In 1960, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge region emerged as a territory protected by federal government; this happened due to the order of Secretary of the Interior, Fred Andrew Seaton, who was then working for Dwight D. Eisenhower, president of the United States. Later in 1980, the Alaska Lands Conservation Act was passed by Congress (Nakaya 56).
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The region comprises approximately eight million acres of land; this area is referred to as wilderness area or rather the Mollinie Beattie Wilderness. During the expansion process, which took place in the 1980s, the zone constituting 1.5 million acres of the littoral regions was determined as the 1002 area; it was expected to undergo various studies and observations, especially focusing on petroleum. The remaining 10.1 million acres of the territory have been set aside as an area whereby natural conditions would be maintained. That area is totally ideal for wilderness designation despite the fact that there are yet no plans of putting it aside as a wilderness region.
The process of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an essential and beneficial activity; it has greatly helped to reduce the cost of oil in the region as well as the level of dependency on foreign imports. The drilling process would make it very easy for people in the region to acquire oil at cheaper prices. This is due to the fact that the transport cost amongst other expenditures will be low. The dependency levels will be lowered if the ANWR oil excavation is developed. The region will no longer need to import oil from other areas since the oils acquired will be enough foreveryone and will be sold at affordable prices. As a result, this will make the region earn foreign revenue as well as promote its economy due to oil extraction as well as due to the internal sales conducted in the region. The economic rents would substantially improve.
Oil drilling would also create job opportunities. The excavation sites require people to drive heavy machines as well as to manually participate in the oil extraction process. As a result, new job vacancies will be created so as to make it simple and easy to carry out the process. This will ensure that the state’s economic levels are enhanced since people will be in a position to earn income and, thus, meet their needs and lower the poverty rate.
However, the oil drilling process involves many harmful activities. A vehicular travel, which is part of the seismic analyses, involves very heavy vehicles that emit significant sound waves. These cars are normally driven in a grid pattern on the landscape. This process changes the land’s surface. One of the negative changes may include soil erosion. The excavation sites are mostly left uncovered; thus, the land there becomes unsuitable for travelling or living due to numerous ditches. This means that it will actually be very hard for both people and animals to survive in such regions (Jackson 52). As a consequence, most ecosystems will be disrupted, calves and various species, like caribou herds, will have their survival rates reduced due to the impacts brought about by the excavation processes.
According to the recent research carried out by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in the long run, oil drilling in ANWR will have severe harmful impact on various species of animals like polar bears, snow geese, seabirds, shorebirds, caribou herds, musk oxen amongst many others. For example, the Porcupine Caribou herd, which is the most populated species in the region, comprises 123,000 animals. The herd travels to the central northern part of ANWR to calve every summmer. Caribou females usually settle 2 miles away from the infrastructure machines. The research predicted that these animals will soon be forced to settle roughly 30 miles away from the excavation sites due to the high developing rates of the ANWR; this also means that the survival rates of the calves would also be reduced by 8.2 per cent. This will highly contribute to the decrease in various activities like hunting and bird watching, thus resulting to a decrease in the number of people visiting the region (Haley 45).
Oil spills are also a great concern. When crude oil spills on the soil or water, the animals living in such conditions will have a hard time surviving; in most cases, such human activities lead to animals’ deaths and climate changes due to pollution amongst many other consequences. Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution are also major environmental disasters that will most probably arise due to oil drilling in the ANWR.
In conclusion, I can contend that oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a cost-efficient activity in relation to the benefits it will bring across the region. Some of these benefits include decrease in oil prices, improvement of the financial situation in the region amongst many others (Collin 45). As a result, such activities should be thoroughly investigated and given special attention to ensure that this excavation process is developed and starts functioning as soon as possible. On the other hand, there is evidence that this process poses various negative impacts on the environment; I am firmly convinced that those issues can be solved through designing proper equipment and improving oil drilling technique and methods. For example, the issue brought about by the excavation process could be solved through slant drilling which actually makes it possible to reach fewer wells with more reservoirs. Issues of oil spills should also be looked into in order to avoid accidents like the one experienced in 2001, when a hunter shot a tap and 285,000 gallons leaked.
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