EDITORIAL: Holding out for lower gas prices

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. This editorial board supports that decision and hopes to see lower gasoline prices and utility bills as a result.

There are an estimated 10.5 billion barrels of oil believed to lie beneath the refuge’s coastal tundra in northeastern Alaska. The United States now uses about 7.3 billion barrels of oil a year, and today about 60 percent of the oil used in the United States is imported, according to The Associated Press.

President Bush and many senators believe drilling in the area will slow the country’s growing dependence on oil imports, and that result certainly is commendable.

Additionally, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to prohibit exporting any of the oil pumped in Alaska. We are happy to hear it. Not a drop of domestic oil should go overseas because we need all of it right here.

Critics of the Senate’s decision deny the drilling will have a significant impact on oil and gasoline prices. However, a look at supply and demand leads this editorial board to believe that while the change in prices may take time, there will be a decrease. The more oil the United States has, the less it should charge for that oil.

Other critics claim the drilling will cause environmental destruction. With modern technology and techniques and stringent environmental regulations, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the coastal plain and its wildlife will be protected. Murkowski added that the development would create tens of thousands of jobs both in Alaska and elsewhere.

The environment is important, as are the economy and the availability of oil to an oil-powered country. Thus, for the economic good of the United States, the continued environmental strength of the refuge and the hope for lower gasoline prices, this editorial board supports the senators’ decision to tap the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.