To Drill or Not To Drill This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     How would you like to see the most beautiful place in America destroyed just for a bit of oil? Last summer, I went to the most spectacular place and came to care deeply about its wildlife. I would hate for that place to be destroyed. I saw bears, moose, salmon, elk, humpback whales, otters and much more in Alaska. I also encountered a hideous, metal snake called the Alaskan Pipeline built in the 1980s to transport oil. Its ugliness sucks the beauty from its surroundings. It cuts through the wilderness like a lumberjack fells trees. If this country were to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea off the northeastern coast of Alaska, the effect would be felt statewide. We must stop the government from allowing oil companies to drill for oil here.

Alaska is one of our last wilderness areas. Future generations should be allowed to enjoy this beautiful state that is home to 800 species of mammals. Drilling would immediately affect 1.5 million acres of Alaska. It would disturb polar bear dens and caribou calving grounds. It would interfere with millions of migratory birds that feed on its tundra plains. It would kill plants and animals that are native to the Beaufort Sea area and the environment would take two decades to recover.

If there were a major oil spill, it would decades for the ecosystem to recover, since so many organisms would be contaminated and eventually die. Remember the 1989 catastrophe when the Exxon Valdez spilled 35 million gallons into Prince William Sound? When I was there recently, it was obvious that the area is still recovering. I’ve seen photos of dead marine creatures, as well as sea otters that were completely black from the oil. Now, America, do you want another oil spill to destroy our environment?

In addition, those who live off the land would also suffer greatly as a result of the damaged ecosystems in northeast Alaska. They would have a harder time finding food, since they rely completely on the land and sea. Beyond that, oil drilling in the Beaufort Sea would be a colossal waste of time and money. It would take months, possibly even years, to get all the oil in the region. This project would take much longer since in the winter temperatures can drop to 80* below zero. As a result, oil companies would have to take extra precautions to ensure safety, which would require millions of dollars.

Another problem in drilling for oil is dry holes. Dry holes can be incredibly expensive, and if a company drills there, they most likely will not hit oil on the first try. Have you heard of the Sohia oil company? Probably not, because this company spent a billion dollars drilling dry holes before abandoning its search for oil here in 1984.

Nobody is actually sure how much oil can be found off the coast in the Beaufort Sea but officials estimate there are 460 million barrels, which is a pretty good-sized oil field according to Ken Leonard, a senior manager at the American Petroleum Institute. Even though there are between 3.25 and 16 billion barrels of oil in all of ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), it would take even more time, money and resources to extract it.

The proposed area is only a fraction of ANWR, but would have a large impact and because the area is so small, many of the major oil companies have lost interest in drilling for oil in Alaska. Since the United States uses seven billion barrels of oil a year, or 19 million barrels a day, it would take only 24 days to use every drop of oil in the proposed area! And yes, I do understand that the United States needs to decrease its dependency on foreign oil, but drilling in Alaska is the wrong way to accomplish that.

Instead of trying to figure out where to drill the next oil well, we should be finding alternative forms of energy. One day all the oil on earth will be gone - we should look to the future and try to find fuel sources that we can depend on.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

AlaskanGirl15 said...
Sept. 29, 2012 at 12:49 am
As you get from my name. I live in Alaska. And in my opinion the money that comes from oil is very important to us. The Trans Alaska Pipe Line is a unique part of our history. Yes it knocked down alot of trees but so did the people that built cities like New York and LA. Imagine all the man power that went into making the pipe line. Northern Alaskan ground is hard to work with. It is unpredictable. The men and women of the 80's wanted to help support future Alaska dwellers. And keep oil pric... (more »)
 
wildlife said...
Jun. 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm
I think we should drill oil in Alaska because the proceeds from drilling could dramatically lower the price of oil, leading to another economic boom.
 
TopSecret said...
Jun. 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm
We can drill without destroying the entire enviroment, but we know that there are oil fields in alaska, Montana, and TExas, that can Fuel the US for Well over a century, we need to tap into that before Gas Prices raise so high that only Rich Folk can afford to do anything, The Agriculture Industry will be destroyed by high Diesel and Gas Prices, So will the Tourism Industry, and the Airline Industry, we need to tap int OUR oil fields
 
AlaskanGirl15 replied...
Sept. 29, 2012 at 12:50 am
You have a point if Fuel and such went up Alaska would have less tourism. And south east villages like mine survive off of tourism.
 
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