NY Times included Republicans' claim minimizing impact of ANWR drilling, omitted Democratic rebuttal

››› ››› JOE BROWN

A November 3 New York Times article by staff writer Robert Pear on congressional consideration of legislation to authorize oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) included Republicans' assertion that the plan would use "only 2,000 acres" of land for oil production, but omitted Democrats' rebuttal of the Republican claim -- namely, that the 2,000 acres refers only to the actual drilling area and does not include the roads, airstrips, pipelines, and other support facilities that would be necessary to begin drilling in the reserve.

The article included a quote from Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who supports drilling in ANWR:

"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is 19 million acres," Mr. Stevens said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "The area set aside for oil and gas exploration is 1.5 million acres. Because of advances in technology, only 2,000 acres of that will be needed for production."

But the article did not include Democratic senators' objections to this claim, voiced during the same November 2 floor debate in which Stevens made his remark. During debate on the Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005 (S.1932), which includes a provision to authorize oil drilling in ANWR, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) offered a pointed critique of the argument advanced by Stevens.

In response to remarks by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who advanced an argument similar to Stevens's, Cantwell stated:

I point out there is a misrepresentation that somehow drilling in ANWR only covers a small area. Drilling in the refuge will really create a spider web of industrial activities over the entire 1.5 million acre coastal plain, so it is much larger than just a small footprint. This legislation might also open up nearly 100,000 acres of native land on the Arctic coastal plain. So it is a much bigger impact than my colleague [Domenici] might have commented on. I want to make sure that point is clear.

Durbin stated:

The argument that this is just going to affect 2,000 acres -- I am sorry -- having flown over this area, having seen what happens, I know and the Department of Interior knows it isn't just about the pad where you drill. It is about roads and airstrips and pipelines and water and gravel sources and base camps and construction camps, storage pads, power lines, power plants, support facilities, coastal marine facilities -- it is a huge undertaking. You may see that postage stamp[-sized plot] of drilling [on a map presented by Domenici], but there is a lot more in support of it that is going to have an impact on this environment.

Media Matters for America has previously noted drilling supporters such as Fox News host Sean Hannity and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton similarly promoting the misleading 2,000-acre figure.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling, Energy
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