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Environment
Gale Norton: Drilling in ANWR won't hurt environment


"Technological advances in oil exploration are at the heart of a debate over America's energy future. Congress will soon decide whether to open up a sliver of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - called the 1002 area - to energy development. Opponents will pretend that new, less invasive technology doesn't exist. It is important for Americans to understand that it does, and that it works.

In past decades, Arctic oil development involved huge amounts of equipment that had to be moved over gravel roads and laid upon large gravel pads. The machines that transported this equipment often scarred the land, especially in spring and summer.

American ingenuity has tackled this problem. Today, oil exploration in the Arctic occurs only in the frozen winter. Workers build roads and platforms of ice to protect the soil and vegetation. Trucks with huge tires called rolligons distribute load weights over large areas of snow to minimize the impact on the tundra below.

Meanwhile, innovations in platform development and directional drilling mean that we need fewer and smaller pads to tap into oil and gas reserves. From a single platform, we can explore an underground area nearly the size of the District of Columbia."

Get the Story:
Gale Norton: Call of the Mild (The New York Times 3/14)
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