Pristine Petroleum Reserve in Alaska Opened to Oil Drilling

Try as it might, the Bush administration hasn’t been able to get its hands on oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Perhaps to make itself feel better, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is forging ahead with plans to permit aggressive oil drilling in large swaths of the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPR-A), the refuge’s lesser-known neighbor. The NPR-A, which was set aside as an oil storehouse for the U.S. military, provides habitat for caribou, migratory birds, and other wildlife. Along with its drilling plans, the BLM is relaxing environmental restrictions on other leased areas in Alaska as part of the Bush administration’s ambitious efforts to increase domestic petroleum production. Environmentalists claim the loosened restrictions will lead to desecration of wildlife areas. Industry representatives respond: But that’s where the oil is.