Energy Department Study Fuels Arctic Refuge Controversy

A new Energy Department study on the prospect of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has both sides in the long-running controversy claiming vindication. According to the study, oil production in the refuge would peak in about 2025 and at that point would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil from about 70 to 66 percent and reduce oil prices (currently hovering around $37.50) by some 30 to 50 cents a barrel. Opponents of drilling in the refuge say that amounts to doing “next to nothing to actually meet America’s energy needs,” as Justin Tatham of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group put it. Added the organization’s Athan Manuel, “The easiest way [to meet energy needs] is to make our cars more fuel efficient … instead of trying to wring every wild place dry.” But drilling proponents — like Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Resources Committee — say the boost to domestic oil production is needed and would create jobs and stimulate investment.