The Instigator
Pro (for)
14 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
31 Points

The United states should permit drilling in ANWR

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/3/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 15,709 times Debate No: 19659
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (45)
Votes (11)




ANWR is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. According to the Department of Energy:

The 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) lies in the northeast
corner of Alaska. The Coastal Plain area, comprising 1.5 million acres on the
northern edge of ANWR, is bordered on the north by the Beaufort Sea, on the east
by the U.S. Canadian border, and on the west by the Canning River. The Coastal
Plain of ANWR is being considered for oil and gas development since it potentially
holds billions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of recoverable
gas. Of the 1.5 million acres of the Coastal Plain, less than 2000 acres
would be affected by development. [1]

Offshore development is outside the scope of this debate.

For this debate "drilling in ANWR" means commercial drilling and recovery of oil, and construction of a pipeline to facilitate transportation of the recovered fuels.

"Permit" means to remove any executive orders prohibiting such drilling, and to pass legislation that provides for leasing the limited areas as described in existing proposals to commercial interests for development. Also, to permit drilling legal steps will be taken to prevent lawsuits that unduly tie up development, and government will refrain from enacting excessive taxes or placing other burdens that would make development uneconomic or delayed. Nothing in the resolution prevents reasonable requirements and inspections with respect environmental safeguards such as are now mandated for drilling on the North Slope.

Drilling in ANWR is a perennial issue. The House Committee on Natural Resources held hearings on the issue concluding on November 18, 2011. The transcripts of the hearings provide background information on this debate. [2]

The first round of this debate is for definitions and acceptance. Rounds 2, 3, and 4 are 8000 characters each and are for arguments and rebuttals. Round 5 is limited to 3000 characters and no new arguments may be made in that round.

Unless explicitly defined otherwise, words are taken in the ordinary dictionary definition appropriate to the context. Word meanings and interpretations of the resolution are to be consistent the intent of the debate.

[1] Department of Energy Fact Sheet



I accept this challenge with the following understanding:

That the "Coastal Plains" region includes the land often referred to as the "1002 Area."

That Pro while advocating that the USFG "permit" drilling, may not advocate for any environmental regulation or enforcement other than such as is currently in place and as currently implemented.
Debate Round No. 1


1. The United States Needs the Money and the Jobs

The US Geological Survey last assessed the oil in ANWR in 1998. They concluded, "At prices less than $13 per barrel, no commercial oil is estimated, but at a price of $30 per barrel, between 3 and 10.4 billion barrels are estimated. Economic analysis includes the costs of finding, developing, producing, and transporting oil to market based on a 12 percent after-tax return on investment, all calculated in constant 1996 dollars." [4] They did not consider any price of oil greater than $40. The current price of oil is $100.39. [5] Inflation since 1996 has been 44.3%, so $40 oil in 1996 dollars would be $57.72 in today's dollars. [6] Using the mean estimate of about 5.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil, at current market prices there is $520 billion in oil available.

The technology for oil recovery keeps improving, so that some of what was not economic in 1998 is now economic. Moreover, new seismic studies have been blocked, and all exploratory drilling has been blocked. Oil oil indicated in the limited seismic data available is counted in the estimates. Such estimates are necessarily low, because ore oil is always discovered and new technology makes it recoverable. For example, in 1980, the proved reserves of Oklahoma were about 1 billion barrels, and currently they are about 600 million barrels. [7] However, total production is values at about $100 billion, at an average price of about $20, implying that 5 billion barrels have been produced. [8] For the United States as a whole, since 1970 oil production has been 5.5 times the decrease in proven reserves. [9] If the pattern holds, the 5.2 billion barrels of ANWR proven reserves will ultimately yield about 28 billion barrels of production. The ANWR oil would then be worth about $2.8 trillion at current prices.

It shouldn't be surprising that production is almost always much higher than original estimates. Estimates are based on what the data shows, and most oil does not show up on seismic studies.

Oil produced in ANWR does not have to be imported. There is no reasonable scenario under which oil can be offset by wind or solar or other energy sources in the next 25 years. The US Energy Information Agency projects the demand for oil through 2035. US demand is expect to increase y about 5 percent, while the demand in the rest of the world doubles. [10] The price of oil is likely to increase significantly while the US will need as much a ever. That makes the ANWR oil extremely valuable.

According to one study ANWR will create 2.2 million jobs, [11] A majority of the jobs are the result of the revenue being spent indirectly within the United States. The alternative is to buy oil, which takes money out of the country and gives the wealth to other countries who then get the induced economic benefits.

2. Alaskans have a right to revenue from their resources

The State of Alaska, the Inuit people, and the Federal government will substantially benefit from increased tax revenues. The Inuit people and the State of Alaska both favor drilling.

"The Inupiat Eskimos who live in and near ANWR support onshore oil development on the Coastal Plain." [12]

Recently, "The Alaska State Senate yesterday voted unanimously in favor of the ANWR oil and gas issue. The State chamber voted 20-0 in favor [of ANWR development] ... The resolution was previously passed in the Alaska House 36 in favor 1 against 3 absent. ... Many lawmakers took the podium yesterday to give strong testimonial support to the resolution and directly urge Congress to open the 10-02 area to oil and gas exploration. In the State of Alaska 78% of Alaskans support the issue and it has unanimously been supported by all governors, congressional senators and representatives." [13]

Alaskans are more aware of the risk and benefits of ANWR development than the Feds who are now making the decision for them. "Alaskans are as environmentally conscious as anyone else in the world. And perhaps even more so since we truly live with the wilderness surrounding us." [14] they should be allowed to make the decision in favor of development.

3. Development will aid international relations

ANWR production could replace about two-thirds of the oil obtained from the Middle East. The greater the energy-independence of the country, the less the potential threat from foreign powers threatening to cut off energy supplies and the less the impact from any action that attempts to do so.

The United States as a whole has enough oil for complete energy independence, if the resources are developed. Irrational objections have blocked the development in Alaska and elsewhere. Development in Alaska is an important first step in achieving energy independence.

4. There is little environmental risk

The fact that the word "wildlife" is in the ANWR name does not mean there is a substantial wildlife population. The US also has National Forests that have no trees. ANWR is barren tundra with small wildlife populations.

The most significant wildlife in ANWR is a large herd of caribou that migrates into the area in the summer. Experience with drilling on the North slope showed five-fold increases in the size of caribou herds, and no harm to the population of any wildlife species. The area subject to drilling in ANWR is desolate, and the area to be drilled is tiny. ANWR is roughly the size of South Carolina ( a little smaller than Portugal) and the area to be drilled is about the size of the Charleston airport. The ratio is that of the size of postage stamp to a football field. Even though there was no measurable ha from North Slope development, improved technology continues to lessen the impact.

Drilling activity is confined to winter, when the ground is frozen and there is almost no wildlife present. Production continues year round, but experience shows that wildlife is not bothered by the production.

Polar bear populations are rising overall, with greater numbers in Canada than in the US. "As Nunavut government biologist Mitch Taylor observed in a front-page story in the Nunatsiaq News last month, 'the Inuit were right. There aren't just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears.' ...Their widely portrayed lurch toward extinction on a steadily melting ice cap is not supported by bear counts in other Arctic regions either." [15]

The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a major disaster, with a total cost estimated at $7 billion. [16] The lessons learned from that event minimize the chance of it recurring. Even so, a $7 billion risk is not a good reason to prevent development that may well return $2800 billion. Making ANWR off limits increases the need for deep water drilling that is even more risky, and it increases oil tanker travel from from foreign oil to the US.

We need the oil, the revenue, and the jobs. The risks are acceptable. The resolution is affirmed.

The challenge for this debate allows new legislation, provided it is reasonable.

[9] Wikipedia references government data



A) Environmental Devestation

1) ANWR critical to Arctic ecosystem

The compactness and proximity of a number of arctic and subarctic ecological zones in the Arctic Refuge provides for greater plant and animal diversity than in any other similar sized land area on Alaska's North Slope. The Refuge is also an important part of a larger international network of protected arctic and subarctic areas.[1]

2) Current Drilling on Alaska North Slope proves environmental harm is 100% certain and occurs over huge geographic areas:

every day there is on average at least one spill either in the oil fields or the Pipeline. 1996 to 2004, there were some 4,530 spills of more than 1.9 million gallons of diesel fuel, oil, acid, biocide, ethylene glycol…Each year, oil operations emit more than 70,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog and acid rain. (three times more than D.C.'s annual NOx emissions, according to the EPA.) Plumes of pollution from Prudhoe Bay have been detected nearly 200 miles away.”[2]

2) Environmental destruction can have potentially massive and unfixable consequences- the Exxon-Valdez shows the long term effects:

“Exxon Valdez oil persists in the environment and, in places, is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill…two decades have passed, as much as 16,000 gallons of oil persists in the Sound's intertidal zones, continuing to poison wildlife.”

Pro offers zero evidence that a similar accident is less likely now. The ruined Louisiana coastline and multibillion economic losses due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill demonstrate we are just as vulnerable as ever.

3) For this reason, environmental policy should follow the Precautionary Principle:

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

4) The drawn out and high profile nature of the ANWR case means that a reversal of the standing policy of preservation will set a precedent. Overturning drilling restrictions uniquely sets a precedent of ignoring the Precautionary Principle whenever economically expedient. This means the environmental impact extends beyond the immediate effects of ANWR and into all ecosystems at risk due to economic factors.

5) The caribou in the 1002 Area (Porcupine Herd) are different from the caribou impacted by North Slope (Central Arctic Herd). Procupine Caribou: birth calves almost exclusively in the 1002 Area, have lower calf production rates, lower survival rates. These rates are especially bad outside of the 1002 area. [9]

North Slope development shows drilling DOES hurt caribou populations:

“Central Arctic caribou…near oilfields gained less weight during the summer and had lower pregnancy rates and calf survival that other members of the herd ” [9]

7) Comparing ANWR with the North Slope is apples to oranges. Unlike existing areas of oil development on the North Slope, ANWR supports a relatively large number of maternal polar bear dens , a substantial population of migratory snow geese, and higher numbers of muskoxen. The Coastal Plain has much fewer fresh water sources making the water supply more vulnerable to pollution from mining[10].

B)International Relations Turn:

1) ANWR uniquely an international Issue – drilling violates multiple environmental treaties

“International law applies to this case for several reasons. The Refuge borders international waters to the north and Canada to the east. Many of its species migrate to places ranging from North America to distant continents. ANWR is one of the last true wildernesses on the planet and thus has symbolic as well as scientific value for people around the world. … there is a strong likelihood of marine pollution that would adversely impact migratory birds and thus violate the treaty with Japan.[3]”

2)Abiding by international law is crucial to maintaining U.S. influence in the world. Violating international law encourages hostile countries to do the same, with disastrous consequences:

“The United States would be safer if more countries had open, accountable governments that respect the rule of law. Current international institutions are inadequate to the challenges of globalization… The United States has a unique capacity to foster peace and stability in the world, but ... If the United States wants others to live by the rules and be “responsible global stakeholders,” it must accept the need to do the same…the United States must take seriously the need to reform international institutions rather than disparage or ignore them.[4]”

C) Minimal Economic Benefit

PREFER MY EVIDENCE: I CITE THE EXACT SAME SOURCE – THE EIA – BUT MY EVIDENCE IS IN ALL CASES RECENT (2008) WHEREAS PRO’S IS OUTDATED BY AS MUCH AS 13 YEARS. All Pro’s evidence is outdated with conclusions based on his own convoluted projections; universally prefer my recent evidence.

1) ANWR will not drop oil prices. OPEC could easily neutralize any price advantage.

“ANWR oil production is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices…Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could neutralize any potential price impact of ANWR oil production by reducing its oil exports by an equal amount.”[5]

2) Even in the best “High Resource Oil Case” the EIA finds that we will still dependent on foreign oil for 46% of our supply in 2030. This is compared to a 54% dependence if we do not drill. A few percentage points does not give us a secure oil supply. And again, we are still dependent on OPEC to the extent that they can efficiently control the price of oil. Additionally, we wont see any decreased dependence until 2022. [5]

3) Pro drastically overprojects the probable oil reserves. The EIA puts it at 10.4 billion barrels, only 1/3 of Pro's claim.

4) …and it doesn’t mean a lot. Turns out most of the oil will go to foreign countries and the U.S. doesn’t even have the capacity to ship ANWR oil to anywhere beside the West Coast, or so says oil analyst Philip Verleger

“Oil in Alaska cannot easily or efficiently be shipped to our GulfCoast refineries. The logical markets are on the West Coast of the United States and in Asia. Consumers in China and Japan, not the U.S., will be the real beneficiaries of any big Alaska find. With a big find, China and Japan will be able to increase imports from a dependable supplier - the U.S. - while consumers in the U.S. will still be at the mercy of unreliable suppliers, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. It is simple geography.”[6]

5) There are no dates and no explanation on the jobs claim - so no way to evaluate how accurate it is. Pro essentially pulled this number out of thin air.

6) Heres some actual evidence about job creation from 2001, Pro overstates the job impact by about 4000%:

“When these adjustments are taken together (these reductions are multiplicative, not additive), the projection of jobs resulting from oil produced in the Arctic Refuge falls to less than 50,000. This number of jobs is fewer than what the economy generated in an average week over the years 1997 through 2000 [7]”

7) None of the economic benefit will be seen for at least 10 years. During that time we could find less risky reserves or undergo an unpredictable energy tech revolution, making ANWR unnecessary.

D) Land Rights

Alaskans dont have a “right” to drill in ANWR anymore than Californians have a “right” to log the redwoods. These are federally protected lands. Additionally, the source that says native Inupiats support drilling is just a website that lists reasons to drill ANWR saying they do.

Turn: An elected official of the Gwich’in people testified before Congress:

“For the Gwich’in, this is a simple issue: Oil development in the birthplace and nursery grounds of the Porcupine (River) Caribou Herd would hurt the caribou and threaten the culture and way of life of my people and the viability of our communities.[8]”

Debate Round No. 2


Putting references in the comments exceeds the 8000 character limit, a violation of Conduct. I'll let Con put them into his next round.

The United States Needs the Money and the Jobs

Con did not dispute my contention that the United States needs the revenue and jobs that would come from ANWR development. Indeed, that is indisputable.

Con only argues that the estimates may be less than the study I cited suggests. The economic impact of ANWR changes depending upon the state of the economy. The economy is now worse than at the time of any previous study, so the benefit is more important.

Con claims that there would be no economic impact for ten years. That's wrong, because the jobs and all the materials needed for construction start soon after the obstacles are removed. The project has been blocked for decades, and that's a reason to get it going, not to further delay it.

Con makes the argument hat ANWR alone won't provide energy independence. It would provide about 15 or 20% o domestic production. It's part of long list of blocked development: the Eastern Gulf coast, the Atlantic shelf, the Pacific coast, Western oil shale, and on and on. If they were not all blocked we would be energy dependent. It's one of many that should be permitted.

It's not logical to reject money on the grounds that it is not as much as one would ideally like to have. No single action is going to fix our dire economic straits, but we should do everything reasonable that helps. ANWR has the potential of providing $2.8 trillion or more. We need it.

Con did not give a reason why only the proven reserves of ANWR when history shows that actual exploration and development typical results in more than five times the recovery. Exploratory drilling in ANWR has been systematically blocked, and even collecting new seismic data is blocked. That minimizes our knowledge of how much is really there. Here's an analogy. Look at empty land in the summer time and count all the spiders you see. So how many do you think you will see? Statistically, empty land has about 70,000 spiders per acre. There is nothing unusual about initial estimates of oil reserves being low; they are always low.

Con argues that the price of oil will not drop if ANWR is developed. That's exactly what I said. If anything, the price will rise substantially because we will be competing with China and India for the world's oil. It makes domestic production ever more important. Saudi Arabia does worry about the price of oil, because they are exporting. We should strive to be exporters as well, and failing that to import as little as possible. If Con's numbers of 10.2 billion barrels at the preset price of $100 are correct, that's over $1 trillion. It doesn't have to be larger to fully justify development. If the normal ratio of estimates to production holds, and oil doubles, it's over $5 trillion.

It makes no difference where the oil from ANWR is shipped. If it's sent to foreign countries, we still get to keep the $1 - $5 trillion. It's logical to swap oil supplies if that reduces delivery costs. Less tanker travel means less danger of spills. Of course, it's always possible to reroute the oil through delivery to Wes Coast ports if there is some reason to do so. One of Con's premises, with which I agree, is that ANWR won't significantly change the world price of oil. Therefore it's fungible.

2. Alaskans have a right to revenue from their resources

Con argued that if Californians wanted to cut down all the redwoods, they wouldn't have a right to do so. That misses the point. Californians are more environmentally aware of the value of redwoods than the rest of the country. Outside interference is completely unnecessary to preserve redwoods because Californians are better able to make the decision. Alaskans are more aware of their environment than the outsiders who are ready to make the decisions.

Consider what right others have to make your decisions? Any claim by others is based upon you not knowing the facts or being unqualified to make the decision. Lacking those justifications, your rights ought to prevail. That's the case with Alaskans.

3. International relations would be improved

Con argues that "marine pollution" might possibly affect migratory birds that would violate a treaty with Japan. The potential for marine pollution comes from oil tanker spills. Japan gets all it's oil from tanker shipments. It is not plausible that Japan would claim that oil shipment by tanker be banned. If the US fails to develop ANWR, we will be getting more oil from the Middle East, and that oil would be delivered by tanker. Vast safety improvements have been made since the Exxon Valdez spill, [20]. International shipping, outside of US control. is likely more hazardous.

More generally, it is not plausible that international treaties forbid developing 6000 acres of ANWR. Nothing done will have a measurable impact on any species. What birds are going to refuse to migrate? No specific impact is even alleged.

Con does not dispute that the world would be a much better place politically if the US were not so dependant on oil from the Middle East. For example, sanctions against Iran have been ineffective because Europe and China want Iranian oil. If the US developed ANWR and other US resources, we could offer to replace the Iranian supplies. That has a value beyond the value of the oil.

4. There is little environmental risk

Con cites a study that claims lower birth rates of caribou near Prudoe Bay. I doubt the study because there is no physical cause identified, and photos show caribou grazing contently near the Prudoe Bay site. [19] However, let's assume it's true. First, the drilling area is minuscule, 2000 of the 19.000,000 million acres, so even if populations were devastated in the drilling areas it wouldn't affect 1% of the herd. Second, if the claim is true there is still no likely effect on the caribou population because the population is determined by the food supply and the numbers of predators. (In Alaska, wolves.) Caribou hunting is legal in Alaska, with 22,000 of the 950,000 animals harvested each year. [17] The populations has been growing despite hunting, so loss of some animals has no effect -- it provides more available food for the rest.

"A series of scientific papers published since 1992 consistently show that the caribou population has increased dramatically during the period of oil field development, and caribou herds regularly use ranges in the oil fields. ... Another paper published in 1998, in the journal Biological Conservation, showed the size of the caribou herd that uses the oil fields has increased dramatically (from about 5,000 animals to more than 23,000) since the oil fields were first developed." [18]

Con provided no evidence countering my claim that there is no threat to the polar bear population. Con provides no evidence that even the few polar bears in the area are threatened, only that bears exist.

The claim is a total of 1.9 million gallons of spills in the course of developing Prudhoe Bay. The average is 420 gallons, well within clean up capacity. Spills mostly occur near the small areas of activity which are continuously monitored and have clean up crews at hand. No spills causing significant damage are cited.

If only 16,000 gallons (44 tonnes) persist from the Valdez spill, it's effects are now negligible. Oil seeps naturally out of the sea bottom, about 160,000 tones per year in North American waters alone. [21]

I challenge Con to quantify his claims of harm.





Overview: The problematic nature of opening ANWR to drilling is captured perfectly by Pro’s closing words in R2: “I challenge Con to quantify his claims of harm.” Pro’s positions demands that in order to stop economic progress I must show the environment will be harmed with certainty. He places the burden on me to demonstrate specifically how the environment will be harmed.

Yet complex environmental systems are hard to predict and is compounded by the complex nature of oil development. Prima facie it is impossible to say “X will have Y impact on the environment” with certainty. But we know that in almost every case, oil operations have an impact. Disasters like the Gulf Spill show the huge harms we must risk. For this reason we must embrace the Precautionary Principle and realize that the appropriate stance to take is “before you drill, you must prove the environment will NOT be harmed.”

Drilling in ANWR reverses the question so that economic expediency takes precedence. It undermines the Precautionary Principle and sets a troubling precedent; the environmental impact of ANWR is therefore not limited to the delicate ecosystem of the arctic, but to every U.S. ecosystem under threat of destruction for the sake of economic expediency.

Note three sources of risk: i)environmental impact with 100% certainty from normal drilling operations ii)major disasters like the Valdez, Gulf Spill, or any of a number unpredictable events. iii)the precedent that ripples into other at risk areas.

1)Extend my unrefuted argument that ANWR sets a dangerous precedent, meaning the drilling threatens ecosystems throughout the U.S.
2)Extend my arguments that the ANWR ecosystem is crucial to the arctic ecosystem as a whole and is more sensitive than surrounding areas, including a vulnerable water supply
3)Seismic testing in ANWR shows how sensitive the area is to activity as simple as driving machinery across it- oil development will be much more invasive:
“18 years after the disturbance...some of the trails have become troughs visible form the air. Others show changes in the amount and type of tundra plants…permafrost melted and the trails remain wetter than they were previously… impacts are expected to persist for decades.”[12]
4)Pro doubts my birthrate study because he found a picture of caribou near drilling sites. This is the definition of a non-sequitur.
5)Pro offers no response to my [9] and [10], which show that the at risk caribou are different and more vulnerable than caribou in other regions and that the coastal plains is more vulnerable than the North Slope region. All my evidence is specific to the Coastal Plain area while none of Pro’s is.
6)There is no way that the 1.9 million gallons spilled at the North Short site was totally cleaned up. It is very difficult to clean up material once it enters the soil or the water supply, which is why there are Superfund sites that are still toxic after being out of use for decades. Pro also offers no evidence that the spills were adequately recovered.
7)The claim that environmental impact is local is just wrong. Contaminants can spread through water sources and my [2] cites 200 miles plumes of toxic gas. Additionally, the transportation of oil off site spreads the geographic risk.
8)Pro’s claim that Valdez effects are negligible has no evidential support and is contradicted by my R2 A.2; moreover single-hull tankers like the Valdez are still in use.
9) Pollution in ANWR threatens the ecosystem as a whole, not just caribou.

B)International Relations
1) Drilling violates the Agreement Between the United States and Canada on the
Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which specifically pertains to ANWR. Also: Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, Migratory Bird Convention with Russia (88 of the birds listed are found in ANWR). Just some of the treaties violated. [3]
2) Pro offers no refutation that respecting international agreements is crucial to the security of the U.S. The process of visibly obeying international norms builds U.S. softpower, enhances its moral authority, and strengthens U.S. capacity for global leadership. Violating treaties undermines cooperation on issues like terrorism, war on drugs, military intelligence etc.
3) I am winning this argument 100% - drilling ANWR does violate treaties and puts U.S. security at risk
4) Cross apply treaty violation to my argument that drilling in ANWR sets a ruinous precedent of disregarding environmental protection when convenient.

C)Minimal Economic Benefit
1) Pro hasn’t provided any evidence that ANWR will have significant impact on job creation. My [7] shows job creation would be on the order expected during a single week- an insignificant amount.
2) Economic timeframe is at best 10 years. Once restrictions are removed, oil companies still have to purchase land, decide where to explore, start exploration, and plan the projects before and drilling or manufacturing begins. This is all part of the normal exploration process that oil companies conduct so wont result in any jobs.
3) Timeframe is very important. Pro likes to talk about how fast oil tech changes- oil tech ten years from now could have the ability to extract oil from sands and shales in the continental U.S. that aren’t economic now. Offshore development could be more reliable and efficient. All trends indicate our capacity to drill will improve with time, so theres no reason to take a risk on easy oil that wont even be available for 10 years.
4) Early job creation comes from the manufacturing of drilling equipment. Multinational companies like Exxon frequently build equipment overseas- I have personally seen presentations by Exxon about how offshore platforms are manufactured in Korean shipyards and towed to U.S. waters.
5) My [6] shows that oil will be shipped to Asia for refinement. It absolutely matters where the oil is shipped, as that’s where refinery jobs and the benefits of having a reliable supply go. This evidence is unrefuted.
6) Pro’s claim of $2.8 trillion is based on flawed analysis as I pointed out in R1. Pro for some reason stands by his personal opinion rather than the professional analysis of the EIA (a source he himself relies on elsewhere). Additionally, the raw value of the oil is irrelevant- what matters is the impact the oil has on the economy, which I have shown is negligible.
7) The EIA analysis accounts for uncertainty in reserve size. At any rate, the EIA analysis is much more reliable that Pro’s personal interpretation of oil development trends, especially given that he thinks oil exploration is comparable to looking for spiders.

D) Right To Land
1) Pro ignores my [8] that nearby Native Peoples oppose drilling. He offers no reason why they have less a right to the land than Alaskans living hundred miles away. If anything, the rights of Native peoples shows we should not drill.
2) This isn’t an issue of personal freedom to make decisions- its an issue of the federal government prohibiting a state from developing protected land. There is a long legal tradition supporting this practice; this whole issue is a red herring.

E) Oil Independence
1) Extend my R1 arguments that studies show even in the best case scenario foreign oil will be 46% of our supply AND that because ANWR oil will be shipped overseas, the U.S. will still have to rely on oil from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. This is what consultants in the oil industry are saying and Pro has offered zero evidence to the contrary.
2) This is another issue I am winning 100%, the benefit drilling in ANWR could offer is so marginal it is irrelevant. Decreasing our dependence by a few percentage points does nothing for U.S. security.

I meet Pro’s source requirement so no need to vote conduct:
Debate Round No. 3


1. The United States Needs the Money and the Jobs

Con's argument is that if (a) the secondary effects of spending money in the US compared to shipping it to the Middle East are ignored, and (b) all the jobs generated outside the Arctic (which is the bulk of the jobs) are also ignored, then the oil project only amounts to week of job creation at the peak of the dot com boom. We do not have a booming economy, so we desperately need all the jobs we can get, and there is n reason to ignore the bulk of the economic benefits as Con does.

It isn't plausible that keeping up to $2.8 trillion here rather than sending it overseas will have no effect. I provided evidence that most of the jobs were not in the Arctic. The equipment, transport, refining, and reinvestment of revenue are mostly in the other states.

If ways are found to drill for oil outside of ANWR in the next ten years, that makes the ANWR production cheaper relative to the market. If that happens there would be more benefit to American companies, workers, and investors.

Con worries that a magical new energy source may appear in the next ten years that eliminates the need for oil. Betting on magic is foolish, but let's suppose it happened. All of the automobiles built upon petroleum technology would take decades to replace, so there would still be profitable markets for ANWR oil. The investments in ANWR are strictly private, so even if the investment proved unprofitable, tax payers would not be paying for it.

A decade is a very short time in terms of changing basic infrastructure. The argument that a decade is unacceptably long was made in 2000 and for decades before that. It's an argument for getting started now.

Approving ANWR drilling would have a positive economic effect the next day. It would put America on the road to energy independence and crack the fanatical resistance to anything that improves the economy. counting all forms of fossil fuels, the United States has the largest reserves in the world. Showing that we will use our reserves would have an extraordinary positive economic benefit immediately, as everyone started behaving as if the country will not fail into economic decline.

2. Alaskans have a right to revenue from their resources

The Gwich'in peoples that Con cites don't live in ANWR and have signed deals for drilling rights on their own land outside of ANWR. [26] They depend upon taking only 350 caribou per year. Moreover, "the Gwich'ins are being bankrolled rather handsomely by environmental groups and fat cat foundations, to speak out against ANWR oil activities." [26] The Inupiat actually live in the drilling area, and they support the development. [27] A poll of the Inupiat showed over 8:1 support. [28]

3. International relations would be improved

Con admits that foreign dependence on oil could drop from 65% to 46%. Con wronglyargues that if there is any level of foreign dependence on oil, there is no point in improving self-sufficiency. The advantage to increased self-sufficiency is that the US is then less sensitive to interruptions of foreign oil supplies.

We could be entirely self-sufficient in oil production if all the unreasonable drilling prohibitions were removed. Energy independence is an extremely important reason to permit drilling in ANWR and elsewhere in the US.

4. There is little environmental risk

Should we pass a law that prevents you from getting out of bed in the morning? The risks, while unquantifiable, are numerous and deadly. You might slip immediately, break your neck and die. All day there are risks of accidents at every turn, risks of contracting disease, food poisoning, and infections, and risks of muggers and crazed killers appearing unpredictably. There could be floods, lightning, and volcanoes. You may think you are qualified to assess the risks and decide for yourself what risks are worth taking, but the rest of us know that the only truly safe thing is to keep you in bed until there is scientific proof that here are no dangers. Don't even think of motorcycles or skateboards.

The arguments against drilling in ANWR are parallel. Is there reason to believe that the caribou herd will be diminished by even one animal? We know that 22,000 caribou are taken by hunters each year, and the herds are thriving nonetheless. We know that at Prudhoe Bay, the herd has increased by a factor of five since drilling started. We know that only 2000 of the 19,000,000 million acres of ANWR will have drilling operations, and the drilling operations are only done in the middle of the winter when there is no wildlife around at all.

Pollution being detectable does not mean it is harmful. For example, chlorine is a highly toxic pollutant detectable in minute quantities, However, not only is chlorine detectable in tap water, it's required to be there. [24] Kilauea, the volcano in Hawaii, spews 6000 tons of sulfur dioxide per day, more toxic pollution that all the automobiles in the world. Alaska has 42 active volcanoes spewing thousands of times the amount of toxic gases from oil drilling. Each volcano capable of taking out airliners, not merely being detectable. [23] How will pollution from the drilling operations stack up against the natural sources? How many animals are killed by the natural sources which are thousands of times worse?

if there is a danger, tell us what the potential actual harm is, and how it compares to natural hazards and hunting. I'm not demanding the exact consequences, only good reasons to suppose the consequences will have a significant impact.

If there is a precedent that environmental fantasies of harm are never contradicted and reversed,we should upset that precedent. Claims must be translated to probable harm. Irrational fears put into law should be replaced by rational evaluation, and that applies across the board.

Drilling in ANWR does not require any change in existing law, the drilling is being blocked by lawsuits and federal agencies. [25]

I did not claim that there was no bad effect from the 44 tonnes of Valdez spill residue. My claim was that it was insignificant. The 160,000 tonnes of natural oil seepage is unquestionably toxic, yet it doesn't destroy the environment.

Con claims that traces of human activity will remain detectable for "decades." That means that in decades they will be gone. In the mean time they do no harm. Wildlife have no problem crossing roads. Drilling rigs are expensive and are removed immediately after wells are drilled. The whole drilling operation, which in ANWR amounts to a postage stamp on a football field, is transient. Alaska has all those erupting volcanoes, easily millions of times more harmful by every measure, but the even the effects of those are transient.

Con offers no proof that the spills related to drilling operation had lasting effects. We can be sure if even one spill had a lasting effect, that would be trumpeted on every extreme environmental site on the web, but Con has presented nothing. Keep in mind that that the average spill is 420 gallons, and that the total is spread over about 40 years.

Cons claims use the fallacy that if a long list of potential hazards can be made, that amounts to a substantial risk in total. I used the parallel to the many dangers of getting out of bed in the morning. Similar arguments can be built against everything from air travel to the invention of the wheel. Despite long lists of potential problems, the total risks amount to nothing compared to the benefits.


[25] Video of Sen. Murkowski's testimony




An ecosystem can be thought of as an airplane, with each part of the ecosystem being a rivet that holds the plane together. Every time you damage the ecosystem, you remove a rivet from the plane; eventually after enough damage is done the ecosystem falls apart and is destroyed- eventually the rivet you remove will result in the airplane falling apart and everyone inside the plane will die.
This analogy is useful because it captures 1) the uncertainty of environmental damage (its hard to say exactly what will be that final rivet), 2) the cumulative nature of environmental damage- the damage lingers for a long time and accumulates, 3) the catastrophic results when the environment breaks.
And the environment does break, whether it be the massive chemical dumping at Love Canal that resulted in plummeting human birth rates and skyrocketing cancer rates, or the annual $138 billion economic damage due to invasive species, or the nightmarish conditions of the Niger Delta due to oil spill [13].
In this way oil development of ANWR threatens the local ecosystem and the interconnected arctic ecosystems. Through undermining the Precautionary Principle, it also threatens at risk ecosystems throughout the continental U.S.
1)Getting out of bed is such a poor analogy Im disappointed I have to refute it. The reason you risk getting out of bed is because staying in bed offers you no benefit- you can only enjoy life if you leave bed; staying in bed gains you nothing. This analogy basically says “look we take risks all the time so we should never let risk deter us from action,” which is of course absurd when you consider whether you want to participate in a rousing game of Russian roulette.
2)I have provided many reasons why drilling in ANWR poses a significant risk. Ive cited studies showing lower birth rate and calf survival rate in caribou near oil fields, the greater vulnerability of Porcupine caribou, the vulnerability of the coastal shelf water supply, etc. Ive also shown that simply driving a truck across ANWR caused damage that hasn’t recovered over 20 years- compare this to the invasiveness of oil exploration, drilling and shipping.
3)In the past decade there have been 4 major oil spills in Alaska alone. [14] This also shows substantial environmental risk.
4)Pro misquotes his volcano source; he claims it emits 6000 tons a day when his source says 2000. Additionally, this is an extreme natural event specific to a single volcano in Hawaii; most volcanoes don’t behave like this and Pro offers no evidence otherwise. My [2] cites 70,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, 7-40 million tons CO2, 24-114 thousand tons of methane released EACH YEAR and detectable 200 miles away due to North Slope drilling.
5)I have cited the Valdez as a spill with lasting effects, I also pointed to Deepwater Horizon. You can also look at my caribous studies and the impact of seismic surveying for examples of lasting impact.
6)That Pro could say that Valdez was “insignificant” is mind boggling. The spill decimated bird, otter and mussel populations and ecosystems still haven’t recovered after 20 years.
7)Almost all of Pro’s arguments only address the environmental risk due to normal drilling operations. He doesn’t do anything to show that a catastrophe like Deepwater or Valdez wouldn’t destroy the coastal plain. Experience shows such an event has huge impacts and the risk of such an event is very real.
8)Even if Pro wins that drilling would have zero impact on ANWR (which he absolutely does not), I still win that drilling in ANWR puts other environmental areas at risk. This is a much larger impact, the largest in this round, since there are hundreds of protected areas across the U.S. that would be ruined if they were drilled for oil. Pro has not contested that drilling in ANWR paves the way to drilling in other sensitive areas, meaning I have won that this impact occurs.
B)International Relations
1)I am winning 100% that drilling in ANWR violates treaties. I have listed 4 relevant treaties, one of which specifically applies to ANWR - Pro didn’t even talk about this issue last round. At this point I have won this issue and since Pro cant bring up new arguments in his final round, I have won this issue overall.
2)Violating treaties undermines the war on drugs, the ability to combat terrorism, and ability to collect intelligence and so undermines US security.
3)Violating treaties signals to the rest of the world that it is ok to disregard rule of law when convenient, destabilizing at risk countries.
4)The timeframe on this is immediate- this is a perception based issue so as soon as we legalize drilling US foreign policy is undermined. This means that we immediately threaten US security with 100% certainty by drilling. No other issue in round compares to this certainty- I win this debate on the Relations issue alone
C)Minimal Economic Benefit
1)I want to emphasize that all of Pro’s economic analysis is based on outdated evidence. Despite me pointing this out in my opening round he continues to use bad data throughout the debate (like his bogus 2.8 trillion claim). Only my evidence is recent and based on oil industry experts so you should universally prefer my analysis whenever our claims conflict.
2)Pro misrepresents my jobs evidence, saying it ignores jobs generates outside the arctic- it does not. More to the point, Pro offers no evidence to counter mine (beside some sourceless pdf with no explanation of methodology). Pro also hasn’t countered my claims that most of the manufacturing and refinery jobs would go to Asia. My arguments are based on economists and industry experts.
3)Pro can say we desperately need any jobs we can get now, but the jobs wont even occur for ten years- by then our recession will exist only in history books. Pro simply claims the impact happens immediately, despite my explanation and evidence that shows that it will not.
4)Obviously there will be SOME economic benefit to drilling. My point is that it is so small that it doesn’t really matter. Its like someone saying “Ill give you a dollar to poop in your front yard”- yeah getting 1 dollar is better than 0 dollars but the gain is negligible when you consider you have to defecate in your yard. Of course in this case its more like saying “In 10 years Ill give you 5 cents and some guy in Asia 95 cents…”
5)The timeframe on the economy issue means that the U.S. is likely to see any economic benefit ANWR would provide from natural industry growth. It just doesn’t make sense to take a risk on ANWR when new technology is likely to open up safer oil sources before we even see a benefit.
D)Right to Land
Extend that this whole issue is just a red herring- judges should just ignore this issue. This is an issue of federal vs. state rights, not of individual freedom; there are conflicting opinions among Natives about drilling; the right of the federal government to prohibit land development is well established in our legal tradition. Whether the federal government ought to have this right is an issue much larger than this debate and was simply not covered well enough to control the judge’s ballot.
E)Oil Independence
1)Pro AGAIN misquotes both me and the EIA for his own benefit – the best case scenario is oil dependence of 48% compared to 54%; but the is generous- oil dependence is more likely to be 51%. Pro’s dishonesty made me waste space correcting him (again) so I want the conduct point.
2)A 3-6% drop in dependence does nothing for US security; Pro says we will be “less sensitive” to interruption in foreign oil supply but the bottom line is that both scenarios pose a significant risk to the US and the gain is so marginal its negligible. When an oil consultant says that even with drilling “U.S. will still be at the mercy of unreliable suppliers, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia [6]” it signals that there is no appreciable gain in security.




Debate Round No. 4


Thanks to Con for a good debate. I think or debate covered a lot ground that people interested in the subject will find useful.

1. The United States Needs the Money and the Jobs

I asked Con if it was even plausible to suppose that having an additional $2.8 trillion in our own money would not be enormously beneficial compared to sending it overseas. He couldn't bring himself to claim that $2.8 trillion was insignificant. The rebuttal was that some of our $2.8 billion would be used to buy goods from Asia. That doesn't dispute the significance of having the $2.8 trillion to buy whatever we want to buy, compared to draining the economy to buy oil.
Saudi Arabia must be in even worse shape, since they need to buy nearly everything from foreign supplies. It's a whole lot better to have $2.8 trillion extra to spend.

2. Alaskans have a right to revenue from their resources

I gave evidence that Alaskans were extremely sensitive to environmental issues, and that there was no good reason for not allowing them to make the development decisions. Juveniles are subject to many restrictions on the grounds that older people know better. That's the only grounds for restricting rights. In the case of ANWR drilling, Washington does not know better. The Inupiat who live there strongly favor drilling, by more than eight to one. There is every reason to suppose that they are sensitive to environmental damage and understand the tradeoffs.

All of Cons arguments failed, so he suggests just not considering the issue.

3. Development will aid international relations

I claim it is better to be less dependent on Middle Eastern oil rather than more dependent because we could better tolerate a partial slow down or stoppage. I argued that the US could be energy independent if it chose to be, and Con did not dispute that. The US has vast undeveloped reserves now unreasonably blocked. Removing any one of the arbitrary blocks won't solve the problem entirely, but a step by step return to sanity would. ANWR is a very good first step.

4. There is little environmental risk

Con claims that any tiny perturbation in the Arctic environment will precipitate disaster, yet Prudhoe Bay development didn't bring disaster, caribou herds increased five times. Alaska's 42 active volcanoes spew immensely more air pollution without disaster. Yearly natural marine oil seepage is many thousands of times the Valdez spill residue. I cited the Coast Guard report on new measures to prevent spills. The risks are much less.

The analogy to getting out of bed is apt. We know the rewards are great. There is a long list of potential risks, but we know they are insignificant in comparison to the benefits. ANWR drilling is a postage stamp area relative to a football field.

Con cites a supposed principle that reasoned tradeoffs must always yield to irrational precedent. If that exists, it should be overturned now.

Let's get on with it.

The resolution is affirmed.



How to weigh the arguments in this round:
This is the most important issue in this round because it has the largest impact. Pro has conceded that drilling in ANWR puts every ecosystem in the U.S., from Yellowstone to Everglade, at risk due to overturning the Precautionary Principle. Widespread destruction of delicate ecosystems would be devastating to the US given the cumulative nature of environmental damage, so we must hold the Precautionary Principle foremost in our minds. Additionally, Pro risks damage to the arctic through pollution causing acid rain, routine oil spill, etc.- these are impacts that are part of normal drilling so are 100% certain. There is also the risk of major oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon or Valdez- catastrophes that could render ANWR as barren as the ruined Niger Delta.
Pro essentially ignored this issue, meaning I win with 100% certainty that as soon as drilling is authorized the US violates treaties (I specifically listed 4), undermining our ability to fight terrorism and war on drugs and signaling to unstable countries that rule of law may be ignored. The economic impact of the war on drugs and terrorism dwarfs whatever benefit we would get from ANWR, plus both issues threaten US security. This is the most certain and soonest occurring impact of drilling in ANWR so it is the second most important. Even if you ignore the environment issue, the International Relations issue alone is reason enough to block drilling.
3)Econ and Dependence
The magnitude of these impacts is so slight that they barely merit considering. I have repeatedly shown that the economic development is negligible and most of it will go to Asia, not the US. I have shown that oil companies will manufacture and refine overseas, not the U.S. ANWR will only decrease oil dependence from 54% to 51%, still leaving us “at the mercy” of foreign oil. Id like to remind the judges how Pro has used outdated sources throughout the debate, so Con’s claims should be preferred. The result is that benefits from driling are marginal at best. Additionally, I have shown that the economic impacts of ANWR wont be felt for 10 years, during which time we could find safer oil sources or improve our ability to get oil from existing sources.
4)Land Rights
Pro tries to frame this as a personal liberty argument but the fact is it’s a states vs. federal rights issue and that groups with claims to the land have differing opinions. The right of the federal government to supersede states has precedent going back to the Civil War. If Pro really felt this was a major issue he would have developed this argument more, but instead he consistently focused on the issues of the economy and the environment- leaving this issue as a sidenote. Judges should ignore this issue.

I would like the conduct point since Pro misrepresented evidence twice, sucking up my argument space while I correct him. First time is a freebie but two infractions should be reflected on the ballot.
Debate Round No. 5
45 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago
tl;dr I basically agree with you on ANWR, but voted based on the debate and what was argued, not on personal beliefs
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago
someone posted a link to this debate ... I remember it; it was quite good. I didn't know there were comments about my RFD though or I would have responded.

Roy, if you still care, I didn't vote on the precautionary principle (PrP) because I think it's true, I voted on it because it's a good debate argument that from what I remember, you didn't adequately refute (and things can be good arguments without being true, like one of my favorite things, the Ontological Argument). I do find your analysis about the Katrina project quote compelling. There's a case to be made that any risk to humans should supercede any risk to animals, or that the threshold of zero harm is ridiculous. That we should allow all harm that is containable or reversible. This is, however, not an argument you made in the debate.

I'm a little perturbed by your comments because they assume an attitude that judges *should* use personal bias in judging debates. I'll vote for environmentalist or religious arguments in a debate I read, if they aren't properly argued against. You are in essence saying you thought you could dismiss an entire field of environmental thought with "we could get hit by a car, who cares?" and that should suffice because we should all use our personal beliefs to reject the position out of hand. That would be like someone saying, "Jesus is God," and I dismiss that argument out of hand because I disagree, without requiring a response from the opponent. If the debate is about the truth of Christianity, that wouldn't really be fair.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
I have lost a bunch of debates, no real problem with that. If people said nothing, I have nothing to say. But giving nonsensical reasons speaks to the times, and that's troubling. It's a new form of religious-type fundamentalism that's speaking, and that's deeply troubling. It can be fatal to society if unchecked.

Maybe the best approach is to do more of this type of debate. Could "Getting a trillion dollars is a good thing." be defended? Probably not.
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago

An awful lot of debaters suffer the problem that when any debate is contentious they are quite certain they have the clearly superior argument and cannot fathom how an external observer could disagree. Debates look different from the outside than they do from the inside. Sometimes you dont make points as clearly as you thought you did.

You win some and you lose some. At the end of the day you need to know when to say "good game" and leave it be.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
My, what garbage!

1. Explain why Saudi Arabia is not an economic disaster. Nearly all of their money is spent overseas. So that's terrible, right?

2. No only are there numerous risks to caribou from drilling, but we shoot and eat 22,000 of them. So why are herds increasing?

3. We shoot 22,000 caribou with no harm to international relations. there is no claim that herds will decrease. so where is the treaty violation? Why will a problem start?

4. Getting out of bed poses risk. It's insignificant. No claim is made of significant risk.

Truly pathetic rationalizations.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
RFD (continued from below):

3) International relations
Pro again conceded that the dependence on foreign oil would decline far less than he initially argued and pretty much agrees with Con's claims that the dependence on foreign oil would decrease a mere 10-20%. Con's point that the ANWR violates international treaties is not addressed neither are all the effects that go with it such as the perception of the United States to the world and the soft political power that comes with adhering to treaties. Personally, I think Con bringing terrorism into this argument is quite a stretch, but looking at the larger issue of the global relations of the United States (which IS relevant), this is a strong point in favor of Con.

4) Environmental Risk
Con cites numerous environmental risks ranging from diminished population of Caribou herds to the Valdez spill which lasted for decades. Pro provides no real response other than that risk is an inherent part of any activity which Con easily refutes by showing that the risks in this case outweigh the benefits. Con makes a good analogy with the rivets in the airplane, however I don't feel like he developed his points well enough to show that it was a global risk. Further evidence from Con showing how the the environment is globally effected would have strengthened his point a lot more. Ultimately though, it proved unnecessary as his points were far stronger than Pro's. Pro never really refutes Con's precautionary principle either.

Overall, Pro's claims were exaggerated and when called out on them by Con, he retracts it and agrees with Con's numbers. Pro's sources were also less current than Con's and less detailed. Con's source on economic impact was far more detailed than Pro's which mostly read like a brochure. I usually don't vote on sources but Con's highly detailed and current evidence deserves a sources vote in his favor.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago

1) The US needs money and jobs
Con shows that Pro's estimates of the money and jobs generated were exaggerated. Pro doesn't defend his original stance but rather concedes to Con's position and argues that whatever little jobs that are generated are beneficial. Pro asserts that most of the job creation is not in the the arctic but in other states. Pro never responds to Con's argument that Pro's evidence is outdated while his own is current. Con's evidence that more jobs will be created in Asia is far more convincing and current that Pro's assertion that jobs will be created in states other than Alaska. Pro's source "The National Defense Council Foundation" doesn't actually explain HOW jobs will be "created in all 50 states," whereas Con's source clearly shows that the creation of jobs is often overestimated due to reasons such as the oil produced being not as high as expected and the fact that the WEFA projection assumes an extraordinary sensitivity to oil prices and jobs. To be fair to Pro, he cited NDCF not WEFA so Con's argument can't be taken as a direct rebuttal, but Con's source did have a much clearer methodology and and explanation than Pro's.

2) Right of Alaskans
Pro starts off by saying that Alaskans have a right to choose what to do with their land to which Con responds that the Alaskan natives actually oppose drilling. However, when Pro cites evidence that the Native people who opposed drilling have signed deals for drilling rights and are being bankrolled by environmental groups, Con dismisses the argument as a red herring even though he had previously engaged that argument. However the issue of whether it is a federal or state decision to drill is left unresolved with Pro claiming that "Any claim by others is based upon you not knowing the facts or being unqualified to make the decision" and Con asserting that ANWR is a federally protected area. More sources and evidence for these would be nice.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
The precautionary principle does not allow humans to live on earth. The principle is that no action can be taken by humans unless there is irrefutable proof that no environmental damage will be done whatsoever. That standard cannot be met by anything humans do, therefore we can do nothing.

Back in he 70s, the Corps of Engineers wanted to build giant flood gates to protect the city of New Orleans. The gates would closed when a hurricane approach. It was established in the courts that at the short time when the gates were closed, a certain endangered fish would potentially be impaired from spawning. Therefore, the project was cancelled. Hurricane Katrina played out exactly as would be expected.

The obvious environmental standard is to assess potential environmental damage and weigh it against the benefits. there is no standard by which damage to ANWR would not be completely negligible. Natural causes are tens of thousands of times greater, and the environment naturally accommodates them. I explicitly rejected the precautionary principle.

The extreme environmentalist position cannot be explained in any terms short of profound religious belief. It's squarely in the category of "actions that cannot be done because they offend the gods." If the US must die economically because nothing can be proved completely safe, well that's just too bad. the oil pipeline from Canada is needed not just to import Canadian oil, but to exploit the huge oil discovery in North Dakota. It's blocked because of "danger to the aquifer." The US is crisscrossed with oil pipelines. None has even caused any such problem. Nonetheless, the pipeline was rerouted around the aquifer. Still unacceptable. Only economic death is acceptable.

I'm genuinely impressed by this debate. I've otherwise only encountered this level of rationalization by Young Earth Creationists. The difference is that the YEC believers do no real harm to others.
Posted by Mestari 6 years ago

Now for more depth on the environmental debate. I think where Roy loses is that he doesn't seem to realize that Raisor rejects ANY and ALL environmental damage. He doesn't accept mitigated or economic development. His case's initial presentation of the precautionary principle shows that allowing drilling in the ANWR sets a principle of rejecting the precautionary principle in other cases which will exponentially increase the environmental damage received. He also proves that the environmental damage is not simply a local issue. Roy keeps claiming that environmental damage will be minimized but he needs to explicitly win some method of determining policy-measures other than the precautionary principle. After reading Raisor's case Roy should have started his rebuttal establishing a framework that allowed for the optimal level of pollution as determined by cost-benefit analysis.


There is only one thing I want to comment on that wasn't in the RFD. Raisor, why did you run international relations? You clearly did not have enough characters to substantially impact it. You say we will be safer but do not quantify the benefits. I would have preferred if you removed it and put in more arguments and impacts in favor of your environmental framework. I think at would have been a much safer approach, and a more solid case. I say that you wanted to be able to weigh any argument that Roy undercovered, but you should not spread yourself thin.
Posted by Mestari 6 years ago

Before I begin my RFD I would like to congratulate both debaters on what was a spectacular performance.

This debate was rather easy for me to decide. I'm going to be very direct with how I voted so I apologize ahead of time if my RFD seems short for a debate of this size. If you have any questions about an area of the debate that I do not discuss here then just ask (preferably through a pm).


Ultimately, I have to vote on the environmental debate. Raisor sets up a clear framework in his case to use the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle is not directly refuted by Roy; however, there is a bit of embedded clash. It is implied that Raisor rejects the precautionary principle when he even affirms the resolution. Even so, Raisor presents more recent studies that show the limits in how many jobs will actually be produced. Furthermore, Roy does not effectively challenge the time frame of 10 years to start seeing benefits. He says that resources will be gained immediately (which is just wrong, however even if it wasn't it wouldn't change my RFD) but never quantifies his impact. Even if *some* benefit will be gained immediate, how much of a benefit is that? How long will it take to see a substantial impact? As a judge I need to know these things. Even if Roy won this point, I don't know how strongly it would weigh into the round because as a judge I prefer explicit clash. He doesn't directly weigh economic benefits with environmental concerns, rather he simply advances economic benefits as superior. So even if Roy won economics he would still lose on the environmental debate.
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 11 through 11 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: See comments.