Drilling oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is an important issue for environmentalists, Americans, and the future of the United States. ANWR is the largest of Alaska's 16 national wildlife refuges (Lee). It contains 19.6 acres, and significant deposits of petroleum, which the drilling of has been disputed for many years (Lee). Harvesting this petroleum would not harm the environment or animal populations as people have speculated, and even though some accidents and spills are likely, new technology and methods will greatly reduce the risk (Lovins). Environmentalists have argued that the possible danger to the area is not worth the price of the oil, unless they are getting paid for it. Harvesting this oil would lessen the need for US intervention in other countries, save American lives, and provide us with 3.2 million barrels of precious oil (Lee).
Environmentalists claim that the refuge is the crown jewel of the American wilderness, and home for many caribou - the flagship species of the Arctic (Lovins). Drilling in this area could destroy its integrity, many animal populations, and especially the caribou population. For lovers of teeming wildlife, vast open spaces, and snowy vistas, a visit to the Arctic Refuge could be the trip of a lifetime (Scheer). The Refuge contains hundreds of species of mosses, grasses, wildflowers and shrubs, and it is a prime habitat for caribou, moose, wolf, lynx, fox, wolverine, musk ox, three species of bear, and many others (Scheer). Concerns remain that oilfield areas would displace caribou from the ANWR area, decrease productivity of the herds, and eventually lead to a decline in herd size (Cronin, et al).
The ANWR contains over 19 million acres, of which the oil drilling would only affect a small percentage (Lee). Of these 19 million acres, almost 18 million have been set aside by Congress; approximately 8 million as wilderness and 9.