Arctic Drilling a Threat to Wildlife?

RIFLEMAN

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Arctic Drilling a Threat to Wildlife
Fri Mar 29, 2:15 AM ET
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Caribou and other wildlife are vulnerable and may face substantial risk if oil is developed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, according to a study by government scientists.

The findings by Interior Department biologists paint a more threatening picture to wildlife should Congress lift its long-standing ban on development of the refuge than drilling advocates have portrayed.

The report, being released Friday by the U.S. Geological Survey (news - web sites), acknowledges that in many cases the risks to a variety of wildlife, including musk-oxen, polar bears and migrating birds, could be reduced by restrictions and close management of oil exploration and production.

Still the report, a copy of which was obtained late Thursday by The Associated Press, is likely to provide new ammunition to those vowing to block efforts in Congress next month to allow oil companies into the refuge.

"Once again the administration has released a report undermining its own case," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (news - web sites), D-Conn., claiming the findings confirm "the environmental destruction that would occur" if the refuge were opened to oil development.

Recently, an Energy Department report suggested that oil from the refuge would provide only modest reductions in U.S. oil imports.

Drilling in ANWR, as the refuge is called, is a top energy priority of the White House.

While the study makes no recommendation on whether the refuge should be developed, it concludes that the region's wildlife are especially vulnerable to the kinds of disturbances that development may bring.

For example, it concludes that the Porcupine caribou herd, which uses the coastal plain for calving each summer, "may be particularly sensitive to development" because it has little quality habitat elsewhere and historically it has been shown that calf survival is linked to the animals' ability to move freely.

The 78-page report is based on an examination of 12 years of research into wildlife activities and the ecology of the Arctic refuge's 1.5 million-acre coastal plain — the area that also may contain about 11.4 billion barrels of oil.

As with the case of the caribou, the study found that development of the refuge's coastal plain may pose risks to other wildlife.

The musk-oxen was described as particularly "vulnerable to disturbances" from oil and gas exploration because they live in the region year-round, including winter when exploration would be most intense.

Snow geese, among the millions of migratory birds on the coastal plain, may be displaced because of increased activity, including air traffic. It cannot be assumed the geese will find adequate feeding areas elsewhere, the study says.

Denning polar bears, another fixture on the coastal plain, also might be adversely affected, the assessment said, but added in this case "aggressive and proactive management" of the development could minimize — or even eliminate — most of the problem.

As for the caribou, the report said "oil development will most likely result in restricting the location of concentrated calving areas" and lead to fewer calves being able to survive and, in turn, possibly a decline in the herd.

In a memo to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Charles Groat, said he wanted to "clarify certain aspects" of the report, including that the research also showed "with mitigation the effect of human development ... could be minimal" where most wildlife are concerned.

But Groat acknowledged that adverse risks to the Porcupine caribou "would depend on the type of development and where the development occurred."

Norton repeatedly has said the refuge's oil can be extracted without harm to the environment or the region's wildlife, arguing that modern drilling techniques can minimize the intrusion into what environmentalists view as one of the world's most pristine and ecologically significant areas.

Interior spokesman Mark Pfeifle said Norton believes the concerns raised in the report will be addressed by the limits that will be put on oil development should Congress lift its current ban on drilling.

Those include limiting the "footprint" that development will have on the terrain and requiring the exploration be conducted only in winter. Oil production would be allowed year-round under legislation now in Congress.

Kenneth Whitten, a retired Alaska state biologist who participated in writing the chapter on the caribou, said in a telephone interview that some of the mitigation proposals are unrealistic.

In case of polar bears, Whitten said, "we don't know where all the dens are. Almost surely during winter we'll be disturbing bears" during oil exploration.

"There's intense pressure within the Department of Interior to come up with findings of no impact," Whitten added.

Bill Seiz, the regional director of the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, acknowledged "there are risks" to the wildlife, but those can be controlled depending on how development occurs.

The report "doesn't make any judgment about development," said Seiz. "It looks at basic science, the things that ought to be looked at if the area is to be developed."

Associated Press writer John Heilprin contributed to this report.
 

Dakota

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What I have read of the report was completely laughable.  The way the report reads it will be the demise of all wildlife.  Why was the report even needed?  We have a prior oil exploration project that was an ENORMOUS success.  Kuparak/Prudoe Bay has had no negative impact that can be identified by any NON-agenda driven biologists.
 

huntducks

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DRILL THERE DRILL HERE DRILL WHERE EVER THERE IS OIL IN THE USA WE NEED TO BRAKE THIS OPEC GRIP.:handgrab:
 

Kernhuntr

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I agree with Dakota on this one. We've been in the Kuparak, Alpine and other fields in that area with no detrimental impact on any wildlife. Not to mention the fact that we have already drilled quite a few wells in the ANWAR field.

I talk with the hands that drill those wells on a weekly basis and the veiw they have is far different from what the scientists have to offer. As was stated before in this thread, you can take any information and put any kind of a slant you wish on it to have it read the way that works for you're agenda.

As much as I would like to break the OPEC grip, it won't happen in our lifetime. There is just to much political b.s. in the mix to think that will happen any time soon. What we need is an energy policy that reflects the needs of our country without the political garbage that goes hand in hand with oil and money.

Kernhuntr
 

RIFLEMAN

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I share the opinion that reigning in OPEC's power over us will take quite some time.  In fact, I am not sure it is possible given their abundance of oil sources.

My concern with drilling ANWR lies primarily with the disruption of the caribou migration routes.  If they would raise the pipes to a height of say, 10 feet or so and keep them elevated with a trellis network, then I would be less opposed to it.  
 

Kickaha

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Yahoo World News
Tuesday April 2, 1:17 PM

Iran would 'consider' using oil as weapon against US over Israel

Iran would consider using oil as a weapon to force the United States to pressure Israel into withdrawing from Palestinian territory, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said.

Responding at a news conference to a proposal floated by Iraq Monday, Kharazi said the use of Arab oil to turn the screws on the US and Israel would depend on a collective decision by Islamic countries.

"If they decide to use oil as a weapon certainly Iran will consider it. It will be effective if all Muslim countries would take such a decision," he said on the sidelines of an Organisation of the Islamic Conference meeting on terrorism.

Iraq's ruling Baath party on Monday called on Arab countries to use their oil power against Israel and the United States to ensure the liberation of Palestinian land.

"Use oil as a weapon in the battle ... otherwise it will become a burden which will lead to (more) humiliation," the party's national command said in a statement.

Arab oil producers, who account for half of world supplies, have not used the oil card since the 1973 crisis, despite repeated calls by Iraq and others to do so.

The statement branded the United States "an enemy and a partner of Zionism," and alleged that the Israeli military offensive in the Palestinian territories "was mounted in joint agreement with the American administration."

Washington dismissed Baghdad's call as "random musings".

Deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the idea was not being taken seriously in the Arab world.

"I just don't have anything on random musings from the Iraqi regime," Reeker told reporters when asked about Iraq's call. "I don't think the Arab world takes that seriously," he added.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, who is also attending the OIC conference here, told reporters: "It is up to the Arab oil producing countries.

"But in general terms the Arab world has the right to coordinate their policies and efforts to stand by their brothers to defend themselves.

"The Israeli threat is not only designed against the Palestinian people but against the whole Arab world."

The Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Southeast Asian oil producer Indonesia, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, said however he believed it was "quite impossible" to use oil as a weapon.

"It is quite difficult now. Oil is not so easy to be used as a weapon," the representative of the world's most populous Muslim nation told reporters.

"A lot of other countries like South America and China are also producing oil as well as other countries outside OPEC.

"Competition among these countries is quite high. Also it is not easy to reach consensus in OPEC about oil prices. What more the use of oil as a weapon? I think it is quite impossible."
 

Kickaha

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The only thing that will work is to eliminate our dependence on oil.  We MUST find a realistic alternative renewable source of energy.  Anything less will mean that someone somewhere will have us by the ba!!s (when you have them by the ba!!s, their hearts and minds will follow).  Even if the USA had access to all the oil in the world, oil is not renewable, will eventually run out, and we’ll be back to looking for a real solution.  

(Edited by Kickaha at 3:03 am on April 2, 2002)
 

marmot

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Interesting, it flys in the face of everything that has been proven by current drilling operations.
 

Dakota

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"My concern with drilling ANWR lies primarily with the disruption of the caribou migration routes."

Rifleman,

The Porcupine herd migrates thru raging ice choked rivers that kill hundreds in not thousands of them.  What makes you believe that a pipeline is going to throw them for a loop?  The existing pipeline has not affected migration  what is the concern about a 2nd one?
 

RIFLEMAN

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Dakota,

    That may very well be, but for every one that dies, ten pass through the rivers.  If this pipe were to be placed at ground level across the migration route, that would effectively fence off the herds.  
    I was not aware that a pipeline already exists in the area.  Do you know how it was constructed?  In other words, is it at ground level?
 

Dakota

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The current pipeline is overground, underground, thru mountains, over mountains.  It varies.  I lived near it north of Fairbanks and it was high enough to walk under in many places and underground in others.  While I am not an "expert" I would say from experience that it had no impact on wildlife.  If I get really ambitious I will dig up some pix.
 

Dakota

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marmot

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<font face=arial size=1><blockquote><hr noshade size=1>Quote: from RIFLEMAN on 12:10 am on April 4, 2002
Dakota,

    That may very well be, but for every one that dies, ten pass through the rivers.  If this pipe were to be placed at ground level across the migration route, that would effectively fence off the herds.  
    I was not aware that a pipeline already exists in the area.  Do you know how it was constructed?  In other words, is it at ground level?
<hr noshade size=1></blockquote></font>

You never heard of the Alaska Pipeline????
 

RIFLEMAN

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Dakota,
   
     Thank you for the pictures.  If the new pipeline was to be built in such a manner, I would not be necessarily opposed to it.

Marmot,

     Now that you mention it by that name, it may sound kind of  familiar.  I have not heard much about it though.  It was built before my time, I think.
 

bubba

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Maybe pipelines save more wildlife than not.

The reason I say this is because I heard that wildlife use the pipelines for warmth.
 

JBarn3

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Rifleman, here is a little info in the pipeline that I found:

Built in the 1970s after oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay (1968), the 48-inch diameter, 800-mile pipeline links Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean with the terminal at Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in the Western Hemisphere. The flow from this pipeline accounts for roughly 20 percent of U.S. oil production annually.

...

The pipeline is buried for less than half its length, where the ground is well-drained gravel or solid rock, and thawing is no problem. Wherever the warm oil would cause thawing of the icy soil (which would cause sinking or heaving) the pipeline, which cost about $8 billion to build, sits on top of 78,000 above-ground supports spaced 60 feet apart. The sections above ground are insulated and covered. The pipe is raised high off the ground in places to span rivers or to allow wildlife to cross under the pipe.


(Edited by JBarn3 at 7:41 am on April 5, 2002)
 

RIFLEMAN

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Thanks for the info, JBarn3.  It certainly relieved my concerns.
 

huntducks

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Rifleman.

Last time I heard 80% of the people in AK. want drilling in ANWR. will mean more money for them and the state along with jobs, they have the 30 year record of the AK. pipeline as proof to back them up, I think if you do a little digging you can find out that the bou heard has florished along the pipeline along with other critters, somewhere I saw some pictures of thousands of bou crossing under the pipeline.

I guess they never talk about the AK. pipeline in college as it was suppose to be a enviromental diaster back in the late 60's you know every critter was suppose to die according to the sierra club gloom & doom impossable would never work, the oil companys would tear up everything building it would leave trash and tons of scrap metal all over, if you can find it I would like to see it, my cousin worked on the pipeline for 7yrs and he said they even put meters on there a$$ to check for farts hehehe.

you must truely be a pup harrrrrrrrrr:moon:
 

RIFLEMAN

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huntducks,

    This may sound harsh, but since ANWR is a NATIONAL refuge, what the people of the state want is irrelevant to me.  If it was a state refuge, then more power to them.
    Per your suggestion, I did some digging on the Trans-Alaska pipeline.  I found that it has a relatively good safety record (two spills since its construction).  However, my digging found that two sources, one an Environmental site and the other a State site, indicated that the flourishing of the caribou herd was attributed to the weather in recent years, not the pipeline.
    I guess my biggest worry is that once they start this "exploitation", where might it end.  Might they begin mining in some other NWR, which might mean the end of hunting there?  It seems contradictory to me that we set aside this land as being protected from development forever, but then we exploit its resources whenever we decide.  Is there no other land in Alaska to drill?  Why must it be ANWR? 
    I never took an environmental policy course in college so nowhere in my education did the topic come up.  I wasn't around in the 60's so I cannot comment on what was predicted.
    As to whether or not I am a "pup", I will admit that I am younger than most here, but older than some. :wink-yellow:
 

Bishop

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Don't you just love it when someone sitting in a office in N.Y., Cal, or D.C. starts dictating to people in Alaska, Montana, Wyo, etc. how their going to utilize the land in their state.  Under the guise of a National Park, Refuge, or Forrest, someone 3000 miles away who has never set foot on the land or ever will, now has authority over it?
Some of these people are the same outsiders that started the spotted owl debackle.  That cost 1000s of Californians their jobs, businesses, homes, and liveihood.  I don't think the purpose of creating Natl. Parks, Refuges, or Forrests, was to take away local rights and control.  
At the present time this country runs on oil, and it will for a long time to come.  And the people we buy our oil from could care less about our needs.  The same enviromental wacko's who don't want us to drill in our country are the ones who stopped nuclear power plants.  It's the typical enviromental hype.  You get more radioactive exposure from a dental X-ray than people around 3 Mile Island received.   In fact more people in America have died in Ted Kennedy's car than have died in nuclear accidents.
So, no nuclear power plants, no drilling for oil in ANWR.  Just depend on the good graces of our Arab friends.    
 
 


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