Many citizens have posed reasonable questions about the threat that energy production may have to wildlife. After speaking with native Alaskans as well as people in numerous government agencies, I know the experts feel as I do – that responsible measures can be taken to protect our wildlife while drilling for oil. Furthermore, wildlife is scarce in the area of ANWR where drilling has actually been proposed. We saw no caribou or polar bears in this part of the frozen tundra. At Prudhoe Bay, where drilling started 30 years ago, wildlife is thriving. In fact, caribou populations have increased dramatically in that region. I saw caribou walking right along the oil pipeline, and locals warned us of polar bears lurking next to parked vehicles. In that region, like elsewhere in the United States and all over the world, wildlife and modern technology are peacefully coexisting.
Is drilling in ANWR the sole answer to our looming energy crisis? Of course not. Our Congressional delegation also visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory operated by the Department of Energy in Denver. Scientists and engineers there are doing vital research into solar and wind power, hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid vehicles and much more. We support those efforts, along with every reasonable conservation measure to reduce energy use.
But the stark fact about America’s energy picture in mid-2008 is that we are years away from replacing our large dependence on fossil fuels like oil and gas. If you doubt that, go out into the parking lot and count the wind and solar powered cars.