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Topics Homepage> The U.S. should increase drilling for oil in the Arctic

The U.S. should increase drilling for oil in the Arctic

PRO (4 assertions)


Arctic: The land in northern Alaska
Drilling: any form of onshore drilling

1. Assertion: Drilling will reduce foreign oil dependence significantly

Reasoning: For many years, the United States has been buying its oil and gas from other countries, mainly the Middle East. This money is taken out of our own economy. We know that drilling in Alaska would bring in many barrels of oil that will significantly lower the amount of money we spend on foreign oil.

Evidence: In 2009, a U.S. trade deficit report by the Center for American Progress found that the U.S. is spending approximately $1 billion a day on overseas oil. According to a chart created by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, $23 billion is spent annually on barrels of oil from Iraq, and $56 billion is spent annually on oil from Saudi Arabia.
A little less than $150 billion is paid to 10 countries, all that are on the ‘State Department’s Warning List,’ which is a list created by the U.S. Department of State that lists certain countries with “long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.” Too much money is being spent on foreign oil, money that could be used to help our current economic condition. Too much of this money is also going into the wrong hands and could, in the future, be used against us.

Sources: Center for American Progress, U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of State

2. Assertion: Drilling in Alaska yields many barrels of oil

Reasoning: Many parts of Alaska have huge oil reserves that we could tap into. Drilling in Alaska would lower foreign dependency, boost our economy, and create many jobs.

Evidence: According to the Energy Information Administration, Alaska ranks second in the nation in crude oil production. Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope is the highest yielding oil field in the United States and on North America, typically producing about 400,000 barrels per day. Further tapping into Alaska’s reserves would produce even more barrels of gas.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline can transport and pump up to 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day, more than any other crude oil pipeline in the United States. The United States Geological Survey estimates that there are 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope.

3. Assertion: Modern drilling does not disturb nature

Reasoning: With new technological advances, any oil drilling leaves a smaller “footprint” on the land, so to speak. Arctic animals and nature will not be harmed through the process of drilling.

Evidence: According to The National Association of Manufacturers, “New technology offers ways of developing and producing oil without the web of roads now found on the North Slope. The greater reach of horizontal wells and the use of multilateral drilling both reduce the need for large pads. New technology allows extraction of oil from larger areas, reducing the number of pads needed to develop an oil field. Because the fields use more effective drilling and fewer wells, waste, mud and cuttings are less. Because fuel consumption is lower, there are fewer emissions.”

Technologies that allow for reduced environmental footprint from drilling: 3-D seismic methods, Ice roads, Low ground-pressure vehicles.

Because of these technologies, there is no negative impact on animals: Oil and gas development and wildlife are successfully coexisting in Alaska's arctic. For example, the Central Arctic Caribou Herd (CACH) which migrates through Prudhoe Bay (which contains a large oil field) has grown from 3000 animals to its current level of 32,000 animals. The arctic oil fields have very healthy brown bear, fox and bird populations equal to their surrounding areas.

4. Assertion: Drilling will produce jobs and benefit the economy

Reasoning: Workers are needed to help manage and create the establishments needed to drill for oil. The amount of oil recovered will also directly help our own economy. In Alaska, a special piece of land called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is set aside specifically for natural purposes. But proposals have been made to begin development and drilling in ANWR. Before the following benefits are listed from this plan, judge, please remember that this is a very small proposal that only affects a small part of Alaska. Imagine what would happen if this were implemented further in Alaska.

Evidence: By these proposals, only 8%, less than 2,000 acres, of the entire refuge would be drilled in. This is a very small plan, but plays a huge role in economics. If this were implemented, approximately 500,000 jobs would be created.

Estimates on bonus bids for ANWR by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Interior for the first 5 years after Congressional approval are $4.2 billion.

Between 1977 and 2004, North Slope oil field development and production activity contributed over $50 billion to the nation’s economy, directly impacting each state in the union.

CON (5 assertions)

Rebuttal To: Duh… Oil drillin’ will help America’s economy!
Assertion: Actually, noob, the oil drilled won’t help our economy a bit. Multi-national companies, not American companies, will be drilling for this oil. Dutch companies like Shell or British companies like BP will be taking the oil, not America. The profits will not stay in America, but be exported to other countries. So basically judge, you have other countries ruining our land and making a quick buck on us by selling the oil back to us. This is ludicrous! So judge, now you can shift this debate away from economy to environmental. Since there is no economic effect, all we’re debating, then, is environmental effect.

1. Assertion: Drilling in the Arctic hurts the environment

Reasoning: Drilling has negative effects on the environment. If something goes wrong, many barrels of oil can spill and negatively impact the earth. Furthermore, drilling for oil in the Arctic would only encourage gas consumption. Focusing too much on gas production means less investment in clean energy. Without clean energy, the earth would be too heavily polluted, and the concept of increased drilling needs to stop.

Evidence: At Prudhoe Bay, home to one of the world's largest industrial complexes, 43,000 tons of nitrogen oxides pollute the air each year. According to the Sierra Club, hundreds of spills involving tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil and other petroleum products occur annually. Decades-old diesel spill sites still show little re-growth of vegetation. Gravel fill, excavation and waste disposal alone have destroyed 17,000 acres of wildlife and marine habitat.

2. Assertion: Drilling in the Arctic hurts wildlife

Reasoning: The threats to wildlife would be enormous. In a letter to former President Bush, over 1000 scientists and natural resource managers from the U.S. and Canada confirmed that oil development could significantly disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the coastal plain and seriously harm caribou, polar bears, muskoxen, snow geese and other wildlife.

Evidence: Biologists project that the birthrate of the Porcupine caribou may fall by 40 percent if drilling is allowed. Wintertime seismic exploration could cause polar bears to abandon their dens, leaving their cubs to die. Wolves and grizzly bears that prey on newborn caribou would also be adversely affected by the impacts of oil drilling, and the more than 130 species of migratory birds that depend on the refuge's coastal plain would suffer permanent habitat losses from oil development. Simply put, oil development would have a severe, detrimental impact on wildlife populations in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Sources: Defenders of Wildlife, Washington Post, Audubon Society

3. Assertion: The number of jobs produced is highly exaggerated

Reasoning: Drilling advocates frequently cite a 1990 study by Wharton Economic Forecasting Group that says 735,000 jobs would be created if full development were allowed in the Arctic. Inaccurate analytical and modeling assumptions resulted in a biased analysis that dramatically overstates potential job creation. In late 2001, the Wharton Group admitted that flawed assumptions were used in the report.

Evidence: According to the Congressional Research Service (October 2001), under the most likely scenario, full development of ANWR would result in 60,000 new jobs. In 2001, the Center for Economic and Policy Research puts the number at “less than 50,000” nationwide. And the bipartisan Joint Economic Committee last year found that drilling ANWR would “create 65,000 jobs nationwide by 2020.”

4. Assertion: The Arctic does not yield much oil

Reasoning: Most of the proposals for drilling in the Arctic target the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil exist in the refuge. Altogether, this is actually a small amount.

Evidence: According to a July, 2005 Energy Information Administration report, at or near peak production (in 2025 if legislation had been passed in 2005), Arctic Refuge oil would make up only 8/10 of 1 percent (0.8 percent) of world oil production and only 3 percent of U.S. oil consumption.
Speaking of peak production, those against ANWR development are quick to note that any oil discovered in the refuge would be unavailable for at least a decade, information again based on the July 2005 EIA report: If oil is discovered in commercial quantities, it would take 10 years before a drop of Arctic Refuge oil could first be produced. In 2015, it would only make up 0.06 percent of world oil production.

Assertions #5