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Drilling in ANWR should be permitted

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By The Staff

On the way to a meeting last week, I stopped to talk with some farmers. One of them was quick to point out how to improve our economy. “We don’t need a check in the mail,” he said, adding, “We need to bring down the cost of gasoline.” I agree.

American ingenuity is working non-stop to develop alternative fuels that will allow the United States to wean itself from importing foreign oil. There are several promising alternatives on the horizon, including some that are being developed in our area. However as these alternatives are being developed, we are being forced to rely on imported oil and petroleum to fuel our economy. Statistics from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U. S. Department of Energy show that the U. S. imports oil and petroleum from 15 countries. Below are two tables that show the numbers of barrels of each that we imported from the top five exporters of each product in December of 2007

Crude Oil Imports (Top 15 Countries)

(Thousand Barrels per Day)

Country Dec-07

CANADA 1,784

SAUDI ARABIA 1,675

VENEZUELA 1,246

MEXICO 1,234

NIGERIA 1,210

The top five exporting countries accounted for 73 percent of United States crude oil imports in December.

Total Imports of Petroleum (Top 15 Countries)

(Thousand Barrels per Day)

Country Dec-07

CANADA 2,360

SAUDI ARABIA 1,686

VENEZUELA 1,387

MEXICO 1,322

NIGERIA 1,271

The United States has been short-sighted in not producing more crude oil and petroleum-based products. However, the no-drill and no refinery elements in our country have blocked any new oil refinery from coming on line for about a quarter of a century. Three times in this decade, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The President was poised to sign the bill, but on each occasion the Senate failed to pass the bill. Given the agenda that the majority in the House has set for this year, it appears highly unlikely that we will get another opportunity this year to vote to expand drilling in Alaska and in other parts of the United States.

A 1998 United States Geological Survey (USGS) study indicated at least 4.3 billion and possibly as much as 11.8 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil exists in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If one were to expand drilling into the non-federal land beyond the Refuge, the USGS says that technically recoverable oil is estimated to be at least 5.7 billion and as much as 16.0 billion barrels.

The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels daily. If the ANWR oil reserves were used to supply five percent of the U.S. daily consumption, the reserves, using the low figure of 4.3 billion barrels, would last almost 12 years. Using the high estimate, the reserves would last approximately 32 years. We need to be drilling, increasing capacity and sending that message to OPEC.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.