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Environmental Views of Anwr

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Executive Summary

The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) is a beautiful 19.6 million acre coastal plain, and is located in the Northeastern part of Alaska. ANWR is home to numerous species of wildlife and one of the largest untapped oil preserves in the United States. There is an immense debate between the opposing environmentalists and the politicians who want to drill for oil on a section of ANWR, which is only 1.8% of the refuge. Environmentalists who oppose drilling for oil in Alaska say the wildlife and the native populations are threatened by drilling for oil in ANWR, even though most of the natives are strongly in favor of drilling. ANWR could save the US from having to import $800 billion worth of foreign oil, creating hundreds to thousands of American jobs, and generate hundreds of billions in royalties and taxes (

Three different environmental ethic views will be addressed, Utilitarian, Deontology, and Lockean. The Utilitarian argument is that the greatest function of ANWR will be reached through drilling. It implies that the intrinsic qualities of the land are of lesser value, and that ANWR serves the people better by being given over to the purpose of oil production. Deontology views ANWR rationally. The question is asked: what would a rational person do when developers propose to convert an unspoiled landscape to commercial use? In the Lockean view, man has a right to use property and the various resources of the earth as he wills, to support his life and values.

The development of ANWR overshadows the minimal risk of environmentally disrupting the wildlife. The US economy and the citizens of Alaska would benefit from the development, not to mention the wildlife would be monitored and thus receive more attention.


Alaska is surrounded by ocean and mountainous terrain and has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States. Alaska is home to the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, in which hundreds of thousands of wildlife reside alongside with one of the largest oil preserves in the United States. Environmentalists are vexed about the possible disruption in the wildlife’s natural habitat and the effects it may have on the Alaskan Natives. Congress is being faced with the challenge of merging diverse goals, national needs for added homeland energy supplies, the national need and importance in safeguarding wilderness or nearly wild lands, and the availability of subsistence fish and wildlife resources for the Alaska Natives.

In 2004, the US imported an average of 58% of its oil and during certain months up to 64%. That equates to over $150 billion in oil imports and over $170 billion including refined petroleum products, which is approximately $19.9 million dollars an hour, according to ANWR supporters. Current legislation calls for responsible development on no more than 2000 acres of the 1.5 million acre coastal plain. That is 0.01% of ANWR's total acreage of 19.6 million. The remaining 99.9% would remain off limits to development (

We will explore Utilitarian, Deontology, and Lockean environmental views and determine whether or not wildlife and petroleum development and production can coexist.

The Utilitarian View of ANWR

The Utilitarian belief asks the question, what would be the best for the greatest amount of people? Or in other words, what would be best for the majority? In our natural history, Utilitarianism has had a huge impact on how the American society operates. All the decisions, as a nation, are decided by the majority. The most popular example of this would be the voting for a new president to lead the county.

Every four years, an election is held by certain to determine which political candidate will be the next leader of the country. There is much campaigning and debating; however, the people ultimately decide what would be the best.

The Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is another example of Utilitarianism. The land ANWR occupies is known to be rich with many natural resources; the most precious of these natural resources being oil. The U.S. government has come to the conclusion that drilling for oil on only a small part of the refuge will not cause extensive harm to the wildlife and ultimately the environment. The government has compared the consequences of drilling for oil to the good that it would do for the majority of the people in the US. Not only will it produce one of the largest amounts of oil in North America but also it will provide many jobs to those who live in the surrounding areas. Therefore, is the best decision for the greatest amount of people that the land remains unused and desolate? Again, the majority is in the best interest of ANWR because of the benefit that it would have on

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