Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): A Primer for the 114th Congress [March 17, 2015]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"In the ongoing energy debate in Congress, one issue has been whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, or the Refuge) in northeastern Alaska--and if so, under what conditions--or whether to continue prohibiting development to protect the area's biological, recreational, and subsistence values. ANWR is rich in fauna, flora, and oil and natural gas potential, but energy development is currently prohibited by law. Its development has been debated for more than 50 years, and sharp periodic increases in energy prices have intensified the debate at times. Low energy prices, such as those currently being experienced, negate the short-term incentives for developing ANWR as Alaskan production is relatively costly. According to the American Petroleum Institute, in 2009 Alaskan drilling costs were nearly 18 times more than drilling costs in the lower 48 states. This report provides a primer on this debate, which has been given new impetus in 2015 by a presidential proposal to designate the area as wilderness. If approved by Congress, this designation would reinforce the existing prohibition on energy development. Procedurally, the status quo of no energy development in ANWR can be changed toward development or toward additional protection only by congressional action. Over the years, controversies have prevented any change in current law, either to open the Refuge to development or to give it further protection. […] This primer provides background for analyzing the various claims through an examination of ANWR's history and an analysis of its geological, biological, human, and economic resources."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33872
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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