July 22, 2008

Debating ANWR: Jordan Sees Arctic Refuge, Pushes for Oil Drilling

By Heather Rutz, The Lima News, Ohio

Jul. 22--LIMA -- Just announcing opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling would lower the price of oil immediately, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan said Monday.

Jordan, R-Urbana, pushed for drilling in the area known as ANWR after a weekend White House-sponsored trip to Alaska by House Minority Leader John Boehner and freshmen Republican members of Congress.

During Jordan's trip he saw wildlife in and around production facilities in places such as Prudhoe Bay, but nothing in the refuge area. "No Bambi, no reindeer, no Santa Claus, just this desolate, barren plain that has 10.4 billion barrels of oil we need to be bringing to market," Jordan said during an interview with The Lima News. "Every one of us is an environmentalist. We all want an environment that's safe for our kids and grandkids. We also understand how critical oil is to our economy."

A May Energy Department report said drilling in the refuge area wouldn't add to domestic oil production for 10 years. Middle estimates of oil production would lower oil prices by only 75 cents a barrel (oil was trading at about $130 a barrel Monday), resulting in a drop in prices at the pump by 1 cent to 4 cents a gallon.

As President Bush's earlier announcement of his lifting an executive order banning off-shore drilling moved down oil prices even though it was only symbolic, opening up ANWR would "send a message to the market" Jordan said, and lower prices. Those wanting to drill don't believe it would take 10 years to begin production.

"Also, just because something takes time doesn't mean it's not worth doing," Jordan said.

The 19-million acre refuge takes up the northeast corner of Alaska; it is about the size of South Carolina. The coastal plain area encompasses about 1.5 million acres and within that those wanting to drill propose developing about 2,000 acres, or 3.13 square miles.

Environmentalists say wildlife and plant life would be put at risk by drilling from development and oil spills.

Improvements in technology have shrunk the surface footprint of oil drilling, Jordan said, while allowing for greater exploration under the ground.

Oil companies should be doing more exploring and drilling on land already federally leased to them said Mike Carroll, a Mansfield Democrat opposing Jordan on the fall ballot.

"Instead of spending $12 billion a month in Iraq, we could be using that to put together a Manhattan Project to bring together the brightest minds of the country to truly solve our energy crisis," Carroll said. "We need to quit letting the oil and energy interests dictate what we do."

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Perrysburg, was also on the trip. Drilling in ANWR is needed, Latta said Monday flying to Washington from Alaska, in the short term and should be part of a broader energy plan involving hydrogen-powered cars, ethanol, and wind and solar power.

Latta also visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.

"It's all interesting to me because it's technology that's happening in my district," Latta said. "We need down to the road to replace oil. It will have to be replaced, but for the next 25 or 30 years oil is going to be a very necessary ingredient of our economy, especially for automobiles."

The trip was educational and to highlight the fact that the country should be drilling, Jordan said. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called the trip a "campaignstyle photo op" and pointed to contributions from the oil and gas industry of $11,000 to Jordan and $27,250 to Latta.

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