Does drilling in ANWR risk contamination of the refuge by oil spills?



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    Yes, that is one of the issues, but not the only one. Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was set aside as a wilderness area by the federal government in 1980 at the end of the Carter administration. The law that did it provided an exception, Section 1002, which said that a decision regarding oil drilling in a certain portion of the ANWR, the coastal plain, would be “deferred.” Thirty years later we’re still arguing about it. Right now drilling is prohibited, and so long as we have a Democratic President and Democratic-majority Congress I doubt drilling will be allowed at least until conditions change. The threat of oil spills is one of the potential dangers of drilling in this area. A more potent danger, however, is the threat to the habitat of wildlife, particularly caribou, from the infrastructure that would have to be built in order to support drilling operations: roads, pipelines, housing and other buildings for the workers, etc. So it’s not just about oil spills, but also about the disruption of the natural environment which can be harmful to wildlife in ways more subtle than simply an oil spill.

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