ANWR: Drilling Into The Final Frontier?

ANWR photo credit: Matt Johnson

Drill, baby, drill!”

~~~Michael Steele, former Chairman of the RNC

There’s been a lot of talk about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, pronounced “an-waar,” lately; and, having visited Alaska and been wowed by its untouched magnitudinous beauty, I thought it a good topic to discuss – as teevy news shows often show soundbites only, leaving one without enough information to make an intelligent decision of your own.  I guess we’re supposed to rely on the “experts” who know implicitly whatever they decide is right and the other sides’ side is beneath consideration.

Two separate great herds of caribou, or reindeer, as we Michiganders call them when we aren’t listening to Elton John’s “Caribou” CD, use ANWR’s lands throughout most of the year, sometimes also venturing into Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The Refuge also has more polar bear babies born near the Arctic shore than any other area in Alaska, let alone the United States; of course….we have one at the Detroit Zoo named Talini.  She is 15 now….in 2020. This article was originally published in 2008. I am slightly modifying it for your reading pleasure and edification.

I was thinking maybe building a pipeline for the oil to Fairbanks might be a compromise between leaving the Refuge a true refuge, and turning part of it, the parts most vital to the polar bears, into a drilling operation. But, frankly, now in 2020, I’m not in the mood for a compromise with Big Oil.

The wild terrain and long distance to Fairbanks might make such an idea fiscally untenable; but transporting oil via the Arctic Ocean is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, what with icebergs and drunken captains and equipment failures and mishaps.

It seems there must be a better way than to take away a refuge from golden eagles and polar bears and reindeer and a host of other animals and plants.

It’d take 7 years to get the oil going; and, it wouldn’t even necessarily lower the price of oil. 1/2 of one percent of all the world’s oil is there, so Brit Hume on FoxNews reported.

Have you ever held out your hand to a baby polar bear? I have – through glass at the Detroit Zoo; but still, it was a wonderful moment.

Congress and The President should invite members of the Alaska Wilderness League, The Sierra Club, and other leading environmental groups and individuals like me to tag along on a trip to ANWR. No legislator should vote to destroy America’s greatest refuge for Arctic wildlife without seeing it and hearing from its strongest advocates.

It’s about time our politicians think deeply, and not be held sway to Big Oil or whoever else wants them to risk the eternal destruction of a refuge that Teddy Roosevelt would’ve surely defended with his Big Stick.

I visited Alaska in August 2000.  I saw some reindeer, two grizzly bears, and a lot of other animals.  I also saw Mt. McKinley (Denali) at sunset.

I know we need to get the price of gasoline down, or at least keep it where it is; but we have to keep our thinking caps on.  A refuge is a refuge.  The polar bears didn’t raise the price of gas on us.  Don’t blame them. Love them. They are precious. That’s why we made a national refuge for them. That means something. Something intrinsically tied to the greatness of America itself. Word.


My hand and Talini. She is around one or two at the time of this photo in 2005. (Photo by Mike Wrathell)
Talini at play (Photo by Mike Wrathell)

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