After a failed attempt in 2005 to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, the House of Representatives plans to explore the option once again this week. The American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act would allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge, which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates contains 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
The House leadership and some opposition members view the industrialization of the refuge as the cost of decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and quelling public concern over rising gas prices. These incentives hide the fact that pipelines and infrastructure would slash over 1.5 million acres of wildlife. What's more, the oil would take 10 years to extract and provide only about what the U.S. uses in a single year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The U.S. Department of Energy's own Energy Information Administration estimates that even 20 years down the road, when Arctic Refuge oil is at or near peak production, gas prices would be affected by about a penny per gallon.
New drilling in the Artic Refuge isn't a quick-fix strategy. If Congress wants to get serious about finding long-term solutions to decreasing U.S. foreign oil dependence, it needs to focus on crafting a smart renewable energy plan that invests in conservation and farm-based renewable energy and biofuels and then encourages the use of the new fuels. This approach also tackles the escalating threat of global warming.
Enhanced renewable energy options would spur stronger investments in cultivating sustainable domestic energy resources and begin to ease the threat of global warming. Requiring automakers to begin shifting over to high blends of biofuels and gasoline would go a long way towards creating a less oil-dependent economy. Part of this equation must include mobilizing farmers who, with proper guidance and financial support, could shift towards the production of energy crops.
As the House votes on the American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act, we urge them to consider looking past destructive quick-fix solutions and begin working towards creating a truly comprehensive and sustainable plan for reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The Center for American Progress has done extensive research in this policy arena. See our suggestions below.
Check out the Center for American Progress Action Fund's campaign: