Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), is a large area of pristine wilderness area in Alaska, set aside for preservation by President Jimmy Carter. The area is estimated to contain about 7.7 billion barrels of oil, and estimates of peak production range from 650,000 to 1.9 million barrels per day. In recent years the potential recovery of this oil has become a matter of controversy.
Advocates of drilling in ANWR point out the benefits of being less dependent on foreign oil, and that this would lower the price of petroleum products (especially gasoline). Critics, however, note that new drilling generally requires five or more years in order to begin producing oil, and that the total amount of oil estimated to be present would suffice for America's oil needs for only a little over a year, making it a relatively small amount. For some critics, however, this is still significant enough to help ease prices, and with the actual rate of pumping the oil fields would last for about 20 years, assuming no extra oil is found. It is also pointed out that since this became a hot button issue back in the 1990s, that the five-year period would have passed long ago and America would already be getting the increased oil supply. The issue comes down to a matter of weighing the natural wildlife and beauty of the region and the economic and security interests the oil would bring. It is as yet unresolved.
Based upon the cost of oil in June 2008, the reserves in Alaska are worth over 1 trillion dollars.
Interestingly, the elected senators from Alaska are always ready to vote to begin drilling when the issue is brought to the Senate, but it is a coalition of those from outside Alaska who block the proposal.
Apparently, it is widely believed that the day America announces drilling (not actual drilling) in ANWR, the price for a barrel of oil will drop immediately.