To drill or not to drill? That has been the question for the last 20 years, since Presidents Regan and Bush began to explore the notion of drilling for oil in the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). Only within the last 10 though, has this idea been seriously pursued by Republicans at both the local and federal levels of government. This heated debate has spanned across politicians, economists and environmentalists, all taking a seemingly different stance. Yet, finally on January 22nd, 2004, the Bush administration decided to open 8.8 million acres of Alaska's North Slope to oil and gas development. Given today's oil-dependent world, as well as the tremendous government deficit, the rewards for Alaskan oil drilling heavily outweigh the risks.
There are several reasons why Alaska, and the rest of the country, will benefit from oil development in the ANWR. Cheaper gas prices, large revenues, and more importantly, new jobs, would be created across the country. According to the National Defense Council Foundation, states such as California, which currently has 1,166,500 unemployed citizens, would gain 334,435 new jobs; reducing the unemployment rate by 28.7%. Overall, the US will gain 2,210,418 jobs as a result of Alaskan resource development, 1,074,640 from oil development and 1,135,778 from gas development.
When oil production reaches its peak, states will gain over $3 billion a year in new revenues. Federal funds will be enriched by over $2.8 billion. Alaskan gas production will generate almost $1.7 billion in new state revenues and add almost $1.1 billion to federal receipts. All together, these numbers come to $4.7 billion in new state revenues and $4.1 in new federal revenues. Over the first fifteen years of production, economic activity associated with ANWR oil production will generate almost $29.2 billion in new Federal revenues and almost $31.4 billion in new state revenues for a total of over $60.