Forwarded Email about the Drilling for Oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor: A message that includes pictures and graphics
about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. It says
that the controversial portion of ANWAR where oil drilling could take
place is desolate and not reflected by the pretty pictures circulated by
opponents of oil drilling in ANWAR. The message also says that
animals, such as caribou and bears, are not bothered by the drilling that
has already taken place in nearby Prudhoe Bay and that Al Gore said the
government should work to raise gas prices to $5 a gallon. The
bottom line, according to the email, is that the Democrats who are opposed
to the oil drilling in ANWAR are lying.
The Truth: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR)
has been a topic of hot debate between proponents of drilling for oil and
environmentalists who are opposed to the drilling.
ANWAR was established in 1980 as a part of The Alaska National Interest
Lands Conservation Act. The act deferred more permanent decisions
about an area of a 1.5 million acre coastal plain, according to the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS), "in recognition of the area’s potentially
enormous oil and gas resources and its importance as wildlife habitat."
The USGS says that studies of the coastal plan have shown that
"technically recoverable oil within the entire assessment area is
estimated to be between 5.7 and 16.0 billion barrels."
The eRumor accurately shows the location and size of ANWAR and the
appearance of the coastal plain.
Opponents of the drilling say that capturing the petroleum in ANWAR will
not solve any U.S. oil crisis so why risk the harm to wildlife there?
Specifically, they say that the exploration and drilling activities would
take place in the refuge's most vital areas for such as calving grounds
for the porcupine caribou herd and den locations for one of America's two
polar bear populations. They are especially concerned about the
impact of any oil spills on the area, which they contend could affect the
Supporters of drilling in ANWAR argue that the U.S. needs to use domestic
petroleum and that ANWAR could supply gas and oil for 30 to 50 years.
The point to the massive oil fields at nearby Prudhoe Bay and say that
drilling there has not negatively affected wildlife. The Central
Arctic caribou herd is friendly with the facilities and has grown from
3,000 to as high as 27,000 over the past 20 years. Additionally,
they say, drilling activity in ANWR would be during the winter months when
such wildlife as the caribou are not there.
The part of the eRumor about Al Gore, Democrats, and gas prices is a
political comment. We could not find an occasion when Al Gore
advocated $5-per-gallon gasoline, but many environmentalists are in favor
of steps that would reduce the use of fossil fuels. It's possible
this is a reference to a speech he gave in the U.S. Senate on April 11,
1991 in which he voiced support of a National Academy of Sciences study.
He said it, "rings the alarm bells again and tells us of the urgent need
to take action now to combat global warming." Among the
recommendations of the study was "restructuring energy prices to more
accurately reflect environmental costs."
picture of the caribou in the email was taken by photographer Carl
Donohue and more of his work can be seen on his website. Carl told
TruthOrFiction.com that the Prudhoe Bay caribou do not calve in the area
open to oil drilling but that the USGS study concluded that human
activity such as development and drilling does have an effect on caribou
and denning polar bear, resulting in lower birth rates.