Department of the Interior

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For Immediate Release:
December 12, 2005

Contact:Dan DuBray
(202) 208-3172

Norton: ANWR Development Vital to the Nation

Interior Secretary says development of largest onshore domestic oil prospect with most stringent environmental limits ever imposed could produce more oil per day than any state, including Texas

- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today emphasized the long-term significance for America's energy security and economy from the opening a small area of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy development. Secretary Norton says the 1002 Area of ANWR - set aside by Congress in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter for potential oil and gas development - is the nation's greatest onshore prospect for energy that could produce more oil per day than any state, including Texas.

"This choice is truly a watershed moment for Americans," Secretary Norton said today of the upcoming decision by Congress whether to finally approve a plan to utilize 2,000 acres of the vast, 19 million-acre refuge. "Just one decade ago, Congress voted to open up this area to energy exploration. Had that legislation not been vetoed, Americans would now be heating their homes and running their businesses with as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day from this area."

The Interior secretary responded to opponents of ANWR energy development who say 10 years is too long to wait for oil to flow from the area: "Families all across this land spend 18 years planning for their children's college education," Secretary Norton said. "Those same children deserve a government that will invest 7 to 10 years in their future energy security."

Secretary Norton highlighted modern energy production techniques that would be employed under the strictest environmental requirements ever imposed on energy development: "Energy production techniques are as different today as the computer you are carrying is as different from the one you used two decades ago. If you imagine that the front page of your daily newspaper represents the total area of Alaska the footprint of energy development in a small section of ANWR would be represented by a single letter on that front page - 2,000 acres."

She noted the effort to open the 1002 Area of ANWR, as envisioned by Congress when the refuge was created, has the broad support of Alaskans: "If we cannot do this in a U.S. state where the activity is overwhelmingly supported by its people, its governor and its congressional delegation, then where in this nation will future generations of Americans turn to supply provide their energy needs? A vote to tap into this potentially vast amount of energy is vital to our nation."

Secretary Norton was joined by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, who underscored estimates that hundreds of thousands of American jobs would be created by energy development in ANWR.