Representative Joe Barton told AAPG members that a supply component
must be part of any meaningful energy policy — and the U.S. House
of Representatives is resolved to pass legislation that will provide
the nation with a sound basis for future energy decisions.
"America needs an energy policy," Barton said. "Why?
Because we are the world's greatest economy and we run on energy
— so we have to have an energy policy and it has to have a supply
"Conservation is important," he said, "but we're an
economy that wants to continue to grow and sustain economic prosperity,
which means a supply component must be part of our energy policy."
Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration
is a key part of the supply component in any energy legislation,
and Barton said the House is closer to achieving this goal than
"The people in this room know better than me, but
I've been told that the structures indicated on seismic beneath
ANWR are the largest ever seen in the continental United States,"
he said. "The USGS reports that the most likely estimate for recoverable
reserves in ANWR is 10 billion barrels of oil. That's an important
new supply we must tap.
"Some in the environmental community say ANWR would
only amount to a six-month supply. That's poppycock. We produce
annually two billion barrels of oil in the United States, so ANWR
is five years of existing production. That's a pretty big deal.
"The largest reserves that have been put on the books
in the last two or three years was a 300-million-barrel-field in
the Gulf of Mexico," he said, "and that pales in comparison to the
potential of ANWR."
Barton referred to bank robber Willy Horton, who,
when asked why he robbed banks, said because that's where the money
"We have to open ANWR because that's where the oil
is," Barton said. "The petroleum industry has proven it can produce
oil from the North Slope or anywhere in the United States in an
environmentally safe manner — you only have to look at the experience
at Prudhoe Bay."
The companies operating Prudoe Bay have one of the
most stellar environmental records in the world, Barton said, and
the animal herds on the North Slope have thrived.
"My son spent one summer working for Arco in Alaska
and his primary job was guarding a den of mating foxes," Barton
quipped. "Arco paid him a lot of money to guard these animals. That's
how committed the petroleum industry is to operating in an environmentally
It's not enough for politicians to extol the virtues
of the petroleum industry, however. Barton said industry officials
have to tell their story and educate the public on their environmental
"I think you are the environmentalists," he said.
"It's estimated that the Fortune 500 energy companies spend about
$5 billion a year on environmental protection. This industry has
an exemplary record on the environment and you need to talk about
what you do and the role you must play in this country's economic
Barton said opening ANWR was part of the energy bill
that passed the House last August, despite the intense lobbying
efforts of the environmental community. The bill's passage in the
Senate is unlikely, because several senators have threatened to
filibuster any vote on the measure.
"But we don't have to have a vote in the Senate since
the bill will go to conference committee," Barton said.
"I'm confident a conference committee will pass an
energy bill that includes ANWR," he continued. "Why? Because the
American people aren't silly. They understand that we need a comprehensive
energy policy and that a supply component must be part of that policy.
"We have a market-based, free enterprise energy industry
in America and I, along with everybody in this room, want to keep
it that way," he said. "It’s up to all of us to work together
to make that happen."