For 40 years, Alaska has been under serious debate. In 1980, the president, Jimmy Carter, signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This act protected over 157,000,000 acres from economic development such as oil drilling. Currently, many people believe that opening up the reserve could help return Alaska from economic dept because it is predicted that there is a lot of oil but I believe that the wildlife should be conserved and Alaska should instead be helped in other ways.
Allowing for oil drilling to commence on the natural land of Alaska could cause serious harm to Alaskan wildlife. Animals like the polar bear and sea otters, who are losing their homes everywhere else seek their last refuge in Alaska. Out of the 25,000 polar bears living in the world, 5,000 live in Alaska. That's a fifth of the entire world's population! Scientists believe that by 2050, all arctic ice will be gone. This means that Antarctica might have to be the last refuge for polar bears. Not only would the destruction of one of polar bears’ last remain habitat be an outcome of drilling in Alaska but it would destroy the habitat for plenty of other animals too.
Polar bears aren’t the only thing threatened by oil drilling. The Gwich’in tribe, a native tribe that lives south of the ANWR, live off the caribou that lives in the ANWR. “We’re caribou people,” says elder Sarah James, who has lived with the Gwich’in all her life. She traveled all the way to the ANWR to protest against the government’s proposal to begin oil drilling. The 1002 area, a place where many people believe there to be oil is also the caribou nesting grounds. Setting up oil drilling sites could scare or harm the caribou herds and starve the Gwich’in people.
“Caribou provide 80% of our food, as well as our clothing. This is a sacred place and we will be wiped out if there is drilling there. We live off the land and this is our garden. Take that away and we starve”(Milman). For these people, Oil drilling scaring away the caribou could be detrimental to their survival. They would lose their main food source and lots of materials they use in everyday life. We’ve already taken away so much from native people let’s help them keep what they have.
Recent studies have shown that chemicals released by oil drilling may cause cancer and other types of diseases. Toxic chemicals released by oil drilling not only help cause climate change but may endanger people who live near them. Yale school of public health ran a systematic study where they evaluated 1021 chemicals found in fracking fluids.They found that there were 67 chemicals that could infect the water supply and lead to future health problems. Some of the chemicals included: Lead, chlorine, and mercury. Oil spills may also render land unusable and uninhabitable to Alaskan people.
Drilling in Alaska might not lead to all the benefits you may think. Many people believe that allowing drilling in Alaska will help its financial crisis, but, the financial crisis was created because of falling oil prices! According to a study was done by the U.S. DOE (department of energy) drilling will only reach maximum capacity at 2026 “when total North Slope oil production peaks at 1.9 million barrels per day in 2026.”(Energy Information Administration). 2026 would be a little late Alaska seeing as we should be planning for cleaner energy resources by then. Another problem raised by another study, this time was done by the United States Geological Survey say that “the oil is expected to occur in a number of accumulations rather than a single large accumulation”(USGS). This means that setting up the drilling could take even more time and money than people ever expected.
I believe that Alaska should keep its refuge safe from oil companies. Their drilling could endanger animals forced out of there homes due to global and who seek refuge in Alaska. Drilling could lead to chemicals that could harm people and children living nearby. Even if we take these risks, Alaska might not receive the economic benefit that Alaskan’s are hoping that the drilling will bring. On the whole, I believe that these risks are not risks worth taking. Instead, Alaska should seek to develop itself in other ways such as green and clean energy.
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Canter, Sheryl. "Why Drilling In Alaska's ANWR Is A Bad Idea." Climate 411. N.p., 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2018.
Elliott, Elise G et al. "A Systematic Evaluation Of Chemicals In Hydraulic-Fracturing Fluids And Wastewater For Reproductive And Developmental Toxicity." Nature.com. N.p., 2018. Print.
"Impacts Of Oil Drilling In The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – Debating Science." Blogs.umass. N.p., 2015. Web. 6 Mar. 2018.
Milman, Oliver. "'We're Fighting For Our Way Of Life': Republican Tax Bill Presents Grave Threat To Alaska's Tribal Groups." the Guardian. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 Mar. 2018.