Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ANWR Alaska arctic picture

Buried treasure: Access needed to federal reserves

Editor's Note: Here is a editorial by The Oklahoman Newspaper

AMERICA'S future depends on an energy strategy that combines using known oil and gas resources, developing new fuels and technologies and common-sense conservation. The largest and best known of these is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), on Alaska's northernmost shore. More than 10 billion barrels of oil are believed to be there.

The Oklahoman Editorial

AMERICA'S future depends on an energy strategy that combines using known oil and gas resources, developing new fuels and technologies and common-sense conservation.
It would be great if scientists discovered a wonder energy source that's clean, inexpensive and inexhaustible. Absent such a breakthrough, it would be wise to use available resources while continuing the hunt for the next generation of practicable fuels.

For the United States that means developing domestic oil and gas reserves. Unfortunately, many known reserves lying beneath federally owned lands are completely off-limits by law or are effectively inaccessible because of stringent leasing requirements.

The largest and best known of these is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), on Alaska's northernmost shore. More than 10 billion barrels of oil are believed to be there. With the United States consuming about 21 million barrels a year, The Oklahoman long has argued ANWR should be opened for sensible, environmentally friendly development.

A recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) survey of 99 million acres of government lands, estimated to hold 21 billion barrels of oil and 187 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, showed about half the oil and more than a quarter of the gas are blocked from full development.

The BLM study showed just 3 percent of the oil and 13 percent of the gas is accessible under standard lease terms that require basic precautions against damaging the environment or surrounding culture. An additional 46 percent of the oil and 60 percent of the gas is subject to additional restrictions.

BLM changed its survey methods from its last analysis three years ago. What's noticeable is the amount of oil that's accessible without limits declined from 2.2 billion barrels to 743 million barrels in the new inventory. Likewise, accessible natural gas declined from 87 trillion cubic feet to 25 trillion cubic feet.

It would be easy to quibble over the BLM's survey methodology, and environmentalists claim the new survey favors the oil companies. That misses the larger point: Federal prohibitions are keeping vast energy resources buried underground. Indeed, the American Petroleum Institute says there's enough oil under federal lands to run 35 million American cars and heat 14 million American homes for 30 years.

Our sense is most Americans would favor a review of restrictions — prohibitions in the case of ANWR — that make the country more vulnerable to price spikes and the whims of foreign suppliers than it ought to be. No one argues America can drill its way to energy independence. It will take the comprehensive approach described above, which also includes technological advances and conservation, to reach that level of security.

But it makes little sense — especially considering the lead time required to put a potential reserve into actual production — to heighten America's energy vulnerability by keeping domestic sources out of reach.

Courtesy of http://www.newsok.com

Permalink :: Posted by Clay Butcher on December 04, 2006 :: ::
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