Although it was first discovered in 1799, Alaska was not officially admitted into the union as a state until 1959. Up until that time, Alaska's history had been littered with settlers from all over the world who found opportunity in the harsh climate of the land, during the gold rush, when oil was first discovered, and even now in its thriving fishing industry. Alaska's shores were also the sight of a sustained attack by Japanese forces during World War II that took two years to beat back (ExploreNorth 2001). Now, Alaska is also known for its wildlife, massive spaces, the pioneering and independent attitudes of its residents, as well as the brutality of its seasons. Indeed, Alaska has been called the last frontier of the United States.
Currently, however, Alaska finds itself in the middle of a hotly debated issue over whether or not to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The ANWR, at first 8.9 million acres of federally protected mountains and coastal plain in northeastern Alaska, was first set aside in 1957 by Secretary of the Interior, Fred B. Seaton, during the Eisenhower Administration (Issue in Detail 2001). At the same time, Seaton set aside 20 million acres of the North Slope of Alaska for commercial oil and gas leasing (2001). From that point to this, periodically the subject of opening up the refuge for oil drilling has been brought up. With an approval of 240 to 189 in the House, and a debate, threatening to be a filibuster, going on in the Senate, it is closer now than it ever has been to becoming a reality (Lavelle 38; Powers 15). With that in mind, this paper will discuss both the reasons supporting drilling for oil in the ANWR as well as those opposed to oil and gas exploration in the ANWR.
Why Limited Drilling Should Be Allowed
Proponents for drilling in the ANWR assert that current technology creates less impact on the environment, an astounding number of jobs will be creat...