Now that legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to open up a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil exploration, ABC’s “Good Morning America” went live on location to show the “untouched wilderness.”
“[T]he 1.5-million-acre tip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is critical for the health of an ancient caribou herd,” weatherman Sam Champion said on the May 6 broadcast. “It’s a safe haven for calving every spring. The same area is valuable for another reason. Underneath it lies billions of barrels of crude oil, as of yet untapped. Oil companies say drilling can be done without danger, but environmentalists disagree. They think drilling would devastate the land and its wildlife.”
“Concerns were raised that the caribou might not be willing to cross the pipeline, thereby shutting them off from their breeding grounds,” Lee Dye wrote for ABCNews.com. “But I personally saw caribou climb on top of the pipeline in a futile effort to escape the hoards of mosquitoes that drive them crazy. Sometimes, they have to be shooed off the runway so planes can land.”
“The number of caribou there, called the Central Arctic herd, has grown from 3,000 to 20,000 during the last 30 years, according to state figures, and is now the largest in recorded history,” Dye continued. “So right or wrong, environmentalists will have a tough time selling the argument that oil exploration inhibits the sex life of caribou.”
Dye also reported most Alaskans support exploring the region for oil.
“Good Morning America” host Diane Sawyer noted ANWR is roughly the size of South Carolina. But the part proposed to open for drilling in 2003 was a very small portion of the coastal plain – 2,000 acres total, or 1/100th of 1 percent of ANWR. A current proposal would provide access to more than 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to some estimates, at a time when journalists are concerned about gas prices hitting or passing $4 a gallon.