Survey Says: Open ANWR to Drilling

Most Americans believe exploration and production can be achieved in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) without environmental damage to the area, according to a new survey conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide for Arctic Power. The survey included responses from 1,002 Americans over the age of 18.

Arctic Power found that Alaskans in particular favor opening the refuge to drilling. "Over 75% of Alaskans support energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, including the native peoples who live there and have been stewards of this land for thousands of years," said Roger Herrera, Washington, DC coordinator for Arctic Power.

The survey revealed that 67% of Americans were more supportive of oil and natural gas production from ANWR after being informed that most Alaskans favor exploration. Further, 74% of Americans are more supportive of energy exploration when informed that exploration will occur on only a small position of the vast 19 million-acre refuge, the group said.

"We need responsible and balanced exploration of the coastal plain in the ANWR," said Herrera. "ANWR is America's energy insurance policy."

Results from the survey also show that Americans are concerned about their energy needs in the near future, said the group. About 80% of Americans believe the United States is likely to experience a serious energy crisis within the next few years, while 36% said the country is already in one. Of those that said the U.S. already is in a crisis, 25% blame the U.S. government, 15% blame over-regulation, 22% blame foreign oil producers and 18% place blame U.S. oil producers.

With 73% of Americans uneasy about the country's reliance on foreign oil, Arctic Power said that Sen. Frank Murkowski's (R-AK) legislation - The National Energy Security Act of 2001 - becomes even more crucial (see NGI, March 5). The energy bill includes a proposal that would open the coastal plain region of ANWR to reduce dependency on foreign resources.

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