The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
13 Points

Drill ANWR

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/1/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,770 times Debate No: 5224
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




The US government should allow oil companies to drill in ANWR.

Here's why:

1. There is potentially a lot of oil.

2. Drilling for oil is not mutually exclusive with investing in renewable energy.

3. The environmental risks are wildly exaggerated. A) The area that would be drilled is less than 1% of the 20 million acres that comprise ANWR. B) Drilling is not nearly as environmentally damaging as it once was. C) Compared with a number of current offshore drilling locations (i.e., the Gulf), the remote and desolate ANWR is a gift to those concerned with environmental contamination.


While I haven't personally made up my mind on this, I do lean more toward the pro side. However, I'd like to take the Con side and see how it comes out. Maybe changing or solidifying my stance.

First, I'd like to propose some assumptions.
1. The part of ANWR that we are talking about is the "1002 area" (referred to as simply "1002"), which was deferred when Congress created ANWR.
2. The rest of ANWR is off limits (most of the "proposed" petroleum is in 1002).
3. Canadian land isn't under consideration either (US Gov't doesn't have a lot of pull and most Canadians are against drilling)

Second, I will dispute my opponent's points.
1. I'd like to get a definition of "a lot". That being said, current estimates (USGS) of 1002's petroleum supply is between 5.7 and 16.0 bil barrels with only 4.3 and 11.8 bil barrels being technically recoverable. That compared to the estimated 120 bil barrels still undiscovered in the lower 48 is quite a small number.

2. Agreed

3. While I'd like to see some actual statistics for B and C.

Third, I will propose my own arguments.
1. By 2030, close to the estimated peak of refinement in the area (2028), ANWR production will be between .4 and 1.2 percent of the total world oil consumption. This would provide little relief for prices and/or supply.

2. ANWR is no desolate and barren as many assume. It is teaming with unique species and environments. As opposed to my opponents argument (3C), the US Fish and Wildlife Service has stated, "Here [in ANWR] lies an unusually diverse assemblage of large animals and smaller, less-appreciated life forms, tied to their physical environments and to each other by natural, undisturbed ecological and evolutionary processes." and "The physical and biological components of this area [1002] are unique compared to the rest of northern Alaska.

I conclude that the cost vs. benefit ratio decisively rests on the side against drilling.
Debate Round No. 1


I think we can reduce this debate to two points:

1. The Amount of Oil in ANWR: I said there is "a lot" because I don't think the estimates are relevant in determining whether or not to drill. This is because even the low-end of scientific estimates put it in the tens of billions of barrels (The United States Geological Survey has estimated ANWR holds a mean estimate of 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.). Whether or not that would "provide relief" to global prices is irrelevant - the point is that's an enormous amount of oil that would clearly benefit American industry and the American consumer.

2. The Environmental Risk: As stated, I think this has been wildly exaggerated, on two fronts.

First, even if drilling in ANWR resulted in the deaths of some unique caribou, it's still worth it. In short, billions of barrels of oil outweigh protecting a small number of unique animals. This should not be controversial. We are not obliterating the rain forest. This is an incredibly remote area where virtually no one - not even scientists - ever go. A relatively small number of animals may justifiably be sacrificed for 10 billion barrels of oil. If you disagree with this statement, we should focus on that.

Second, it is a mistake to equate "drilling for oil" with "geological disaster." Even assuming no technological progress in the last 30 years, drilling is not the same as firebombing the area. However, drilling has become remarkably more self-contained.

Additionally, these environmental fears have been empirically disproven: "North Slope caribou herds have remained healthy throughout previous oil development. In fact, the Central Arctic caribou herd, which is located in and around Prudhoe Bay, has increased 10 fold in the last 20 years." - Weyrich


So I apologize for the briefness of this post. I had completed a long drawn out argument, hit submit, and it asked me to log on....losing it all. :-( I really don't feel like typing everything out again so I will summarize (please take that into account).

1. The amount of oil is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is if it will help America.

2. The environmental risk is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is if it will help America.

1. 10 bil gallons may seem like a lot, but by 2030 it will only be 1% of the worlds daily production. This will result in only a $0.41 to $1.44 off per barrel or $0.01 to $0.03 per gallon.

2. The death of countless caribou is not worth $0.02 off a gallon (average). Although spilling has decreased over the years it is still way to high. Since 2000 (with "better" methods) there has been over 150,000 tonnes spilled worldwide (or 1 million barrels or 46 million gallons). One of the smaller spills in Prudhoe bay (Alaska) was caused by a dime sized hole in a 34" pipe. It spilled over 850 tonnes and destroyed over 2 acres costing millions of dollars in lost profits. This was a relatively small spill. If it was anywhere close to the famous Exxon Valdez incident (37,000 tonnes), imagine the damage it could have done.

The potential destruction of part of ANWR is not worth the mere $0.02 off a gallon. Although the organisms that live in the proposed drilling zone may be living peacefully now, if a spill were to happen, it would kill everything it touched.
Debate Round No. 2


RogerOut forfeited this round.


I'm sorry that you felt the need to forfeit the last round. A simple "don't have time" or "don't have anything more to add" would have been a little bit better, but I don't know the reason.

I will keep this short for the sake of the readers.

Two quick points

1) I think that the fact that RogerOut forfeited should be proof that he had no more to say or saw, himself, that my argument was stronger than his. Either of those reasons should be a sure vote for the Pro side.

2) The facts and figures about the price per gallon that I used earlier, were adjusted to the time that they applied. This would negate the point that was brought up in the comments about sitting on the crude oil and waiting until later. The longer you wait, the less that same amount will be in the world's production.

That being said, I don't really feel the need to re-summarize my argument from round 3. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Derek.Gunn 9 years ago
The value of that oil is just going to increase over time.
Why extract it all when it's $110/barrel?
If you wait 10 years and oil's $500/barrel you'll do a lot better.
People will be a lot more careful with their drilling too.
Posted by surfride 9 years ago
Rogerout, obviously you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to ANWR's species diversity, especially when you say that it is not like drilling the rainforest. Too many people like you say "Well, it's cold and harsh, and i can't see much wildlife, so it doesn't matter". It essentially is like the rainforest, but even harder to clean up when there is a spill, because the harsh conditions that make it difficult (comparatively) to drill there make it even harder to clean up. Also, ANWR is now one of the few Arctic preserves remaining in the world.
One other point is that even though we may be able to obtain 10 bil barrels of oil over the period of drilling, a) there is way more oil in the lower 48, which, although oil companies whine and complain about how it's harder to extract that oil, it's better to preserve the rare ANWR environment and have gas go up 2 cents a gallon than kill ANWR and get no price reduction, and b) even if "less than one percent" of ANWR is harmed by drilling, let's even say half a percent, although i believe that it would go over 1% if allowed, half a percent of 20 million acres is about 100,000 acres. that's a lot.
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