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Friday, March 17, 2006

Putting ANWR in Perspective

UPDATED: Sorry, but the last half of this post was somehow truncated. It has now been restored.

So, you've heard the argument that drilling in ANWR will destroy the reserve.

Not so fast.

Take a look at this map of Alaska that highlights ANWR. See that tiny little red box inside the green area labeled ANWR Coastal Plain? That itsy-bitsy little red square represents the 2,000 acre region that is proposed for drilling.

For those familiar with the Twin Cities, this little red box is roughly the same size as White Bear Lake.

Clearly, drilling a region so small could not possibly “destroy the reserve.”

Let's dispel another myth about ANWR. Critics claim that President Bush wants to “give away” the land for drilling. In truth, land lease, rentals, and taxes are estimated to return 4.2 BILLION dollars of revenues to the federal government during the first five years after development begins.

But, what if the government chose to give away the land?

In Minnesota, there are proposals to build taxpayer subsidized stadiums for both the Twins and the Vikings. Even if Minnesota's congress does not approve financing the stadiums, there is a good chance that they will approve “giving away the land”. They may even approve reducing the taxes that both teams currently pay in order to keep them in Minnesota.

Arguably, the public benefit for drilling in ANWR exceeds that of building playgrounds for professional sports teams.

While the argument for stadiums is focused on keeping related jobs and secondary entertainment revenues in Minnesota, the argument for drilling in ANWR includes the creation of new jobs that do not, currently, exist. Drilling in ANWR is expected to create over 2 MILLION new jobs nation-wide. The Twins and the Vikings would have a hard time attracting 2 million fans let alone creating 2 million jobs.

Finally, there is that complaint that oil companies might profit (aghast!!) by drilling in ANWR.

Why shouldn't they?

There are rich reserves of oil and natural gas to be had in our own backyard. Much to the contrary of conventional wisdom, Mother Earth is still producing lots of oil for us to use. But, somebody must endure the expense and the risks of getting it out and refining it. This is called providing a service and a product. The reward – and the motivation for doing so – is called profit.

Let's face it. Oil runs the world. It fuels our cars, our planes, and our public transportation. It heats our buildings and provides the necessary energy to quench our thirst for things electric – even those tiny little hybrid cars. (What do you think is charging their batteries??)

Oil is even used to make plastic. What would life be like without plastic?

So, I ask again, why should those who take the risks and endure the costs of retrieving the oil not benefit from the service that they provide?

About those critics of Big Oil profits, do any of them have jobs – jobs that provide a service or a product? Do they refuse to accept payment? Or, do they profit from their work?

Given the service that is provided, who is more deserving of the profits they earn – Big Oil, Big Baseball, Big Football, or Big Hollywood?

[I had to throw Hollywood in there. It is a bit comical to watch a mega-million dollar Hollywood star step out of his or her private plane and into a hybrid car then criticize the profits of oil companies.]

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