Group protests possible drilling
Their determination was greater than their numbers. About nine college students gathered Thursday outside a British Petroleum Amoco gas station in Moorhead to express displeasure about possible oil drilling in Alaska's National Wildlife Refug...
Their determination was greater than their numbers.
About nine college students gathered Thursday outside a British Petroleum Amoco gas station in Moorhead to express displeasure about possible oil drilling in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge.
"We have a responsibility to the environment," 25-year-old Fargo resident Julie Larson said as she stood outside the Main Avenue and Eighth Street gas station. "It's a very fragile area to drill in."
The group held signs and encouraged passing motorists to honk in support.
Larson said she wasn't expecting the protest to instantly change motorists' habits, but she did hope to get people thinking about fuel conservation and alternative energy.
"If they think about things for one minute, we have accomplished something," she said.
A BP spokesman said Thursday the company does not drill in the refuge and has not decided it would even if Congress passed legislation allowing it.
"Our belief is the decision to open that area to exploration lies with the American people," said spokesman Scott Dean. "It is in the hands of elected officials."
There are 19 million acres in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In 1980, Congress set aside 1.5 million acres along a strip of the refuge's northern Arctic Ocean coast for possible oil exploration.
Environmentalists and most congressional Democrats have resisted drilling in the area because the required network of oil platforms, pipelines, roads and support facilities, not to mention the threat of spills, would hurt wildlife.
Proponents have argued drilling is essential to helping wean the United States off its dependence on foreign oil.
Dennis Jacobs, a professor of Multi Disciplinary studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead, said product currently being piped through the Alaska pipeline is expected to be gone in the next five to 10 years so companies are looking for other sources.
"If they drilled in ANWAR the total amount (of oil) would feed us for about 18 months," he said. "There's quite a bit there, but we have such an appetite."
He said ethanol, biodiesel, and hybrid cars are alternatives to motorists who have to drive.
Dean said even if the necessary legislation is passed, the company would have to consider economics and whether the drilling can be done in an environmentally friendly way.
"We would not operate in a place where we would cause environmental harm," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Baird at (701) 241-5535