Why did President Bush want to drill for oil in Alaska

01:00 Fri 19th Apr 2002 |

asks Pathfinder:
The US Senate has just thrown out one of President Bush's most controversial proposals: drilling for oil in Alaska - in the one and half million acre Arctic national wildlife refuge. But it may only be a temporary respite.

Q. Why
Republicans needed to get 60 votes out of 100 to go ahead with the scheme, but only got 54 in the end. If, however, the Republicans gain control of the Senate after the midterm elections in November, the plan could be reinstated.

Q. What is the attraction of drilling in Alaska
Apart from the fact that there's nobody there Petrol prices in the US have risen in the past few weeks. The national average is $1.41 (about 98p) for a US gallon (about four fifths of UK gallon). Even though this is far less than the price of petrol in the Europe, it is a contentious issue in the US, where people are used to having cheap petrol. Also, there's the threat of an Iraqi oil embargo and the lure of new jobs.

Q. Does it make a difference that the president and vice-president are former oil executives
Well, it may have more to do with the fact that there's an ongoing battle between Republicans who want the US to be more independent and develop yet more oil fields and the environmental lobby.

Q. What do the people in Alaska think
The two senators from Alaska were not happy about the outcome as the state would earn half the royalties from the oil. They blamed 'radical environmental organisations' for the defeat.

Q. What are the alternatives to drilling in Alaska
There were reports that the administration was considering plans to allow drilling at dozens of sites in the Rocky Mountains. However, this is just as likely to prove as controversial as the Alaska project.

Q. If the Alaska oil drilling went ahead, would it supply enough to keep the US in oil
No. It would be 2010 before the oil would be available, and there's only enough to supply the US for between six and 18 months.

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By Sheena Miller

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