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CONTENTS SUMMARY MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS Legislative History of the Refuge Actions in the 109th Congress The Energy Resource Oil Natural Gas Advanced Technologies The Biological Resources Major Legislative Issues in the 109th Congress Environmental Direction The Size of Footprints Native Lands New Maps Revenue Disposition Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) Oil Export Restrictions NEPA Compliance Compatibility with Refuge Purposes Judicial Review Special Areas Non-Development Options LEGISLATION FOR ADDITIONAL READING
One major element of the energy debate is whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, and if so, under what conditions, or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area's biological recreational, and subsistence values. ANWR is rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Its development has been debated for over 40 years, but sharp increases in gasoline and natural gas prices from late 2000 to early 2001, terrorist attacks, further increases in 2004-2005, and infrastructure damage from hurricanes have intensified the debate. Few onshore U.S. areas stir as much industry interest as the northern area of ANWR. At the same time, few areas are considered more worthy of protection in the eyes of conservation and some Native groups. Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge.
The FY2006 Budget Resolution (H.Con.Res. 95, H.Rept. 109-62) required that the House Resources and Senate Energy Committees achieve savings targets that would be difficult without including ANWR legislation. The Senate Budget Committee reported a title in S. 1932 (reconciliation) to open ANWR; supporters designed it to meet the savings target and Senate procedural restrictions on matters included in reconciliation bills.
ANWR provisions were struck from the House version of reconciliation (H.R. 4241) before floor consideration at the insistence of a group of Republican Members, according to press reports. The House then substituted its text for the Senate version of S. 1932. The difference on ANWR was a major issue in conference. The conference report (H.Rept. 109-362) omitted ANWR development. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the report, but neither contains ANWR provisions.
Development advocates then added ANWR development to the conference report for the Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2863). While the House passed the conference report with the ANWR provision, the ANWR title was removed after failure of a cloture motion in the Senate.
Development advocates argue that ANWR oil would reduce U.S. energy markets' exposure to crises in the Middle East; lower oil prices; extend the economic life of the Trans Alaska Pipeline; and create jobs in Alaska and elsewhere in the United States. They maintain that ANWR oil could be developed with minimal environmental harm, and that the footprint of development could be limited to a total of 2,000 acres.
Opponents argue that intrusion on this ecosystem cannot be justified on any terms; that economically recoverable oil found (if any) would provide little energy security and could be replaced by cost-effective alternatives, including conservation; and that job claims are exaggerated. They maintain that development's footprints, being scattered across the landscape, would have a greater impact than is implied by any limit on total acreage. They also argue that limits on footprints have not been worded to apply to extensive Native lands in the Refuge, which could be developed if the Refuge were opened.
MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
The House and Senate agreed in conference on reconciliation (S. 1932, H.Rept. 109-362) from which ANWR development provisions (contained only in the Senate version) were removed. (The House passed the conference report, but the Senate amended it. The measure is unresolved.) Senate supporters then added an ANWR title to the conference report for Defense appropriations (H.R. 2863, H.Rept. 109-359). Opponents of ANWR development filibustered the measure; failure of a cloture motion (yeas 56, nays 44, Roll Call #364) led to striking the provision from the Defense appropriations bill (P.L. 109-148).
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) consists of 19 million acres in northeast Alaska. It is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). Its 1.5-million-acre coastal plain is viewed as one of the most promising U.S. onshore oil and gas prospects. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the mean estimate of technically recoverable oil is 7.7 billion barrels (billion bbl), and there is a small chance that, taken together, the fields on this federal land could hold 10.7 billion bbl of economically recoverable oil (at $55/bbl in 2003 dollars). That amount would be nearly as much as the giant field at Prudhoe Bay, found in 1967 on the state-owned portion of the coastal plain west of ANWR, now estimated to have held almost 14 billion bbl of economically recoverable oil. (See "Oil," below, for further discussion.)
The Refuge, especially the nearly undisturbed coastal plain, also is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. The presence of caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, migratory birds, and other species in a de facto wilderness has led some to call the area "America's Serengeti." The Refuge and two neighboring parks in Canada have been proposed for an international park, and several species found in the area (including polar bears, caribou, migratory birds, and whales) are protected by international treaties or agreements. The analysis below covers, first, the economic and geological factors that have triggered interest in development, then the philosophical, biological, and environmental quality factors that have generated opposition to it.
The conflict between high oil potential and nearly pristine nature in the Refuge creates a dilemma: should Congress open the area for energy development or should the area's ecosystem continue to be protected from development, perhaps permanently? What factors should determine whether to open the area? If the area is opened, to what extent can damages be avoided, minimized, or mitigated? To what extent should Congress legislate special management of the area if it is developed, and to what extent should federal agencies be allowed to manage the area under existing law?
Basic information on the Refuge can be found in CRS Report RL31278, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Background and Issues, by M. Lynne Corn (coordinator). For legal background, see CRS Report RL31115, Legal Issues Related to Proposed Drilling for Oil and Gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), by Pamela Baldwin. State lands on the coastal plain are shown at [http://www.dog.dnr.state.ak.us/oil/products/maps/maps.htm]. An extensive presentation of development arguments can be found at [http://www.anwr.org], sponsored by a consortium of groups. Opponents' arguments can be found variously at [http://www.alaskawild.org/], [http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/can-am/washington/shared_env/default-en.asp], [http://www.protectthearctic.com/], or [http://www.tws.org/OurIssues/Arctic/index.cfm?TopLevel=Home].
Legislative History of the Refuge
The energy and biological resources of northern Alaska have been controversial for decades, from legislation in the 1970s, to a 1989 oil spill, to more recent efforts to use ANWR resources to address energy needs or to help balance the federal budget. In November 1957, an application for the withdrawal of lands in northeastern Alaska to create an "Arctic National Wildlife Range" was filed. On December 6, 1960, after statehood, the Secretary of the Interior issued Public Land Order 2214 reserving the area as the "Arctic National Wildlife Range." The potential for oil and gas leasing was expressly preserved.
In 1971, Congress enacted the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA, P.L. 92-203) to resolve all Native aboriginal land claims against the United States. ANCSA provided for monetary payments and created Village Corporations that received the surface estate to roughly 22 million acres of lands in Alaska. Village corporations obtained the right to select the surface estate in a certain amount of lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Under [section] 22(g) of ANCSA, these lands were to remain subject to the laws and regulations governing use and development of the particular Refuge. Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation (KIC, the local …