EDITORIAL: Open ANWR: Refuge part of deficit solution

Raising revenue without raising taxes. That’s an excellent idea if ever there was one.

All we have to do as a nation is go to a piggy bank, one of which is sitting way up north in Alaska. A relatively small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could provide the nation not only with another source of domestic oil but also billions of dollars in revenue from that oil.

The idea to open the coastal plain of ANWR to oil development is far from new. Congress in 1980 designated the coastal plain as an area available to oil production, with another vote of Congress required for that to actually occur. People have been fighting about ANWR ever since.

The idea to have ANWR provide some of the necessary revenue for deficit reduction came up this week from Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., a member of the bipartisan supercommittee that has been given the task of creating a plan to reduce the nation’s deficit.

Rep. Hastings pointed out the numbers.

“According to USGS estimates, ANWR contains approximately 10.4 billion barrels of oil and at peak production could supply the U.S. with up to 1.45 million barrels of oil per day. This is more than the U.S. imports daily from Saudi Arabia.

“Producing this much oil would generate substantial revenue for the federal government through leasing and royalties. Over the life of production, ANWR could generate approximately $150 billion.... This is a conservative estimate and could very well be as much as $296 billion depending on the price of oil and the actual amount of oil resources.”

Finding new revenue without raising taxes is something that should appeal to all members of the congressional supercommittee. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Some members of the panel — and of Congress as a whole — are holding on to opposition positions that date back to another era. Opponents of opening ANWR need to bring their opinions in line with the reality of the day.

Is ANWR the total solution? No, it never has been. Not for the nation’s financial problems and not for its energy problems.

But is it a viable and available source of both money and oil? Absolutely.

To let this small spot of ANWR remain locked up, especially now, makes little sense.

09/21/2011 - 1:39pm