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    Drilling in the Alaskan Wilderness

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    Case # 82:


    Category: Environmental ethics

    Drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been a source of contention among policy makers for years. In 1980 Congress expanded ANWR by 9.5 million acres, with 1.5 million acres (known as section 1002) set aside for the study of petroleum production potential. In 1987, 1991, and 1995 legal measures to drill in the 1002 area were proposed and defeated. The issue was raised again when President George W. Bush made drilling in section 1002 part of his national energy agenda. The events of September 11, 2001 have resulted in intensifying the debate.

    Proponents make three major arguments for drilling in ANWR: (1) In light of recent economic downturns and the unstable diplomatic situation in the Middle East, the U.S. must increase domestic oil supply in order to decrease dependence on foreign oil. (2) The area occupied by wells and drilling equipment has shrunk by approximately 60% since the development of the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Developments in drilling technology allow a single pad to tap multiple oil pockets at distances of up to four miles. These advances have minimized the environmental impact of petroleum extraction. As evidence, production supporters point to the fact that despite fears to the contrary, the caribou herd in the Prudhoe/Kuparuk oil field region has increased in population. (3) Most Inupiat Eskimos in the area favor oil leasing for the economic opportunities exploration may provide.

    Opponents of drilling counter that (1) even if section 1002 produces the maximum projected amount, oil consumption will continue to rise exponentially. Conservation (such as increasing vehicle fuel efficiency), rather than expanding production, note the opponents, is the only long-term solution. (2) The negative ecological impact on the area outweighs any potential benefit from oil production, in the opinion of the opponents. The plain of section 1002 provides critical calving area for a caribou herd five times as large as the Prudhoe/Kuparuk herd in an area one-fifth the size. Development in this areas, the opponents contend, would push the herd into the foothills where calves would be prone to predation and starvation from scarcity of resources. (3) The opponents point out that not all Native Americans favor drilling. The Gwich'in Indians, for example, consider the area sacred. The Gwich'in also subsist on caribou and fear the negative impact that petroleum production might have on the herd.

    The controversy remains unresolved. Since control of the Senate switched last year, Majority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat, South Dakota) has vowed to defeat a bill passed in the House of Representatives that would tap ANWR. On the other hand, Chairman of the House Resource Committee Jim Hansen (Republican, Utah) argues that in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks drilling in ANWR is more important than ever, and has urged the Senate to pass the House energy bill in the interest of national security.

    Eighth Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl at The Annual Meeting of the Association for Practical And Professional Ethics in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 28, 2002


    Author Information
    Name: Robert F. Ladenson
    E-mail: [email address removed by system]
    Homepage: http://www.iit.edu/departments/humanities/
    Institution: Department of Philosophy Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Faculty Associate, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (IIT)
    Web site: http://ethics.iit.edu/
    Copyright: Association for Practical and professional Ethics


    ? Who are the stakeholders in this case?
    ? What are the interests of the stakeholders?

    Legal Analysis
    ? Do any of the environmental laws from the eGuide apply to this case?
    ? If they do apply, analyze the legality of the government's actions in this case.
    ? If the laws do not apply to the actions in this case, explain why they do not apply.

    Ethical Analysis
    ? If the decision maker applied the categorical imperative theory in this case, what would the result be, and why?
    ? If the decision maker applied the utilitarian theory in this case, what would the result be, and why?
    ? If the decision maker applied the rights theory in this case, what would the result be, and why?
    ? If the decision maker applied the justice theory in this case, what would the result be, and why?

    Conclusion and Recommendation
    Based on the above, as well as what you have learned about ethical theories and foundations of moral development, what is your final recommendation to the corporation regarding this case? Your recommendation should be at least two paragraphs and include at least three reasons, with specific references to course material, stating how you arrived at that conclusion.

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    Solution Preview

    Thank you for that clarification. Take care.


    I attached an excellent resource, a sample APA paper to refer to as well.



    To approach this case, I read the case thoroughly and the questions, which is important to gain a good understanding of what is expected. Then I read the chapter in the e-guide, jotting down relevant information to the questions and page numbers, which is important for future reference when drafting a rough copy. I used the eGuide's examples to help apply the laws to this case, and ethical theories to help come to conclusions as to the right or wrong actions to take. If you follow this process, these cases are fairly easy to analyze. Hopefully, this response will be an addition to this process. As well, the attached sample APA paper is an excellent learning tool and guide for future reference, as well.

    Your headings will be as follows:

    I. Introduction (title of your paper)
    II. Legal Analysis
    III. Ethical Analysis
    IV. Conclusion and Recommendation

    Now let's look at information for each section for you to consider. The year of publication was not included for the eGuide, so you will need to locate this. However, if no date is provided-for in-text citation you will write (Ladenson, n.d.) and for the reference list, you will write (n.d.) after the author's name.


    Historically, oil exploration and drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been a source of controversy among policy makers. The stakeholders in this case include:

    ? The environment as a stakeholder casts a broad net; it includes the earth itself and everything on it, including animals, wildlife and human beings. In this case, the environment is Alaska and the Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the wildlife and people.
    ? Since all humans can be considered environmental stakeholders because of our reliance on the environment for our continued existence, in this case stakeholders include United States government and politicians, oil companies and the managers of the oil companies, environmentalists worldwide (give a voice to the plants, wildlife, air, etc.), and the people in Alaska. (Ladenson, year?)

    Thus, the issues of oil production in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) affect all people, including the managers themselves as stakeholders. Therefore, the environmental issues oil companies and managers face are not simply about trees and water and birds, but all the people of Alaska (Ladenson, year?).

    Each stakeholder has unique interests, such as:

    ? The environment is a unique stakeholder of every business because it is a stakeholder that is utilized and consumed by business, and although it cannot defend or advocate for itself, life on Earth depends on appropriate management of this stakeholder. Environmental issues not only affect the Earth, its vegetation, wildlife, and atmosphere, but also every inhabitant of the planet. The interest of environmentalist (opponents) is to protect the environment from pollutants that damage the environment using various reasons to support their position.
    ? Oil companies and the managers of the oil drilling companies, ...

    Solution Summary

    By addressing the questions, this solution discusses aspects to the case about the ethical and environmental concerns regarding drilling in the Alaskan wilderness. References included, as well as an APA resource.