It looks like Sen. Stevens[R-AK] desire to get drilling in ANWR to reduce US dependance on foreign oil has been defeated by threat of filibuster. Do not lose hope though, the House passed this defense/disaster relief bill with legislation giving ANWR drilling the go-ahead. Even if the Senate version of the bill lacks ANWR enabling language, the two bills must be reconciled in conference before being sent to President Bush. So while Sen. Reid and Sen. Feinstein crow about stopping Sen. Stevens holding the Senate hostage, it still may reach the President's desk to be signed.
What is all this fuss over pristine wilderness anway? ANWR is 19 million acres of wilderness that is only reached by one gravel road. Primary means to get in is airplane. The area where Sen. Stevens and others want oil companies to drill is in an area called the 1002 Area and it contains 1.5 million acres. How large is 1.5 million acres? You can fit five cities the size of New York City in there with room to spare. But the oil companies don't want all 1.5 million acres, just 2000 acres or less than three square miles. These 2000 acres may contain upto 16 billion barrels of oil or one million barrels a day for 30 years. In fact the oil is already oozing to the surface in some areas of this refuge.
Surely all these people who love animals would want birds and polar bears protected from oil contamination. But alas not. So polar bears will risk soiling their pristine insulating coats. Birds may become poisoned and incapable of flight. And watch the caribou track oil all over the snow as they migrate. So upto 19 million acres of pristine wilderness is endangered because some people do not want 2000 acres of it cleaned up of oil.