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Digging Our Way Out of the ANWR Morass: A Performance-Based Approach to Protecting Habitat and Managing Resources

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Publication Date: March 2005

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Michael De Alessi

Topic: Environment (Parks, nature reserves, and open spaces)

Type: Brief

Abstract:

One of the more spirited debates over the use of public lands in recent years has focused on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. Opposing sides tend to take an absolutist view. The pro-development side claims that exploration of the ANWR is necessary for jobs and energy security, among other things. Environmentalists and other opponents believe that the arctic environment and its wildlife are too precious and fragile to risk what will inevitably be a significant ecological impact due to oil and gas development. Nevertheless, the pertinent question to ask now is not whether drilling will take place or not, but what will be the extent of the drilling, and what will be the environmental effect of that drilling. The most important issue is how to realistically balance any exploration that does take place with an effort to minimize the environmental impacts of that exploration.