Wildlife Refuge or Oil Field? Developers' False Claims Gloss over Environmental Damage to Arctic Area

By Edward Flattau Copyright Edward Flattau | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 23, 1995 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Wildlife Refuge or Oil Field? Developers' False Claims Gloss over Environmental Damage to Arctic Area


Edward Flattau Copyright Edward Flattau, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


In the next few weeks, you will be hearing a lot of rhetoric about why oil exploration should be allowed on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain.

As you might expect, the petroleum industry is all for opening this portion of Alaska's North Slope to development; and corporate types assure us the operation can be carried out without disrupting the environment.

Environmentalists vehemently oppose the move, arguing that our nation's only remaining intact wilderness ecosystem would be desecrated for at best a relatively short-term supply of oil.

Whom are we to believe? Let's play true or false with some of the claims that the dredge-and-drill crowd are making in response to the environmentalists' concerns.

There is no need to be alarmed at industrial activity on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Just look at the environmentally "flawless" development that has taken place at nearby Prudhoe Bay's giant oil field. Answer: False.

Prudhoe Bay is hardly a paragon. An average of 500 oil spills occur annually. Air pollution from the facility exceeds the total emissions of at least six states. Even though the actual gravel fill and extraction of the headquarters site cover only 10,000 acres or so, the entire industrial complex sprawls over 800 square miles of tundra. Snow in the Prudhoe Bay fields has high concentrations of toxic heavy metals. What's the effect of all this on wildlife? The birth rate of caribou in proximity to the oil development is way down. Numerous bird and fish populations have suffered from the environmental disturbances, which include contamination of surrounding freshwater ponds.

The actual drilling site in the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain would be about 12,000 acres, the same size as Washington's Dulles International Airport, so there is no reason to be worried. Answer: False.

The entire industrial complex would include 280 miles of roads, hundreds of miles of pipelines, 11 production facilities and two ports. Environmental impact would be felt far beyond the center of activity, perhaps in an area as large as 235 square miles.

The coastal plain is a frozen desert so there is little or nothing for industry to harm. Answer: False.

The wildlife refuge's coastal plain is brimming with life. It is a calving ground for the 152,000 strong Porcupine caribou herd and home to 200 species of animals, 350 species of plants and, in season, countless numbers of migratory birds. The coastal plain is also the nation's most important on-shore polar bear denning habitat and is crisscrossed by major rivers.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Wildlife Refuge or Oil Field? Developers' False Claims Gloss over Environmental Damage to Arctic Area
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?