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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/192655_issues28.html

On the Issues: Candidates starkly differ on drilling in refuge

By JOAN LOWY
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

There are few issues on which President Bush and his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, hold views as diametrically opposite as the question on whether drilling for oil and gas should be permitted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Here's where they stand:
Bush: The president's national energy plan places a heavy emphasis on increased domestic production of oil and gas, including opening the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling -- long a top goal of the oil industry. The plain is estimated to hold as much as 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil, the biggest untapped domestic reserve.
Repeated attempts by Republican leaders in Congress to open the Arctic refuge to drilling have been defeated in the Senate by a coalition of Democrats and Republican moderates who object to the plan on environmental grounds.
"As long as cars and trucks run on gasoline, we will need oil, and we should produce more of it at home," Bush said. "New technology makes drilling for oil far more productive, as well as environmentally friendly, than it was 30 or 40 years ago."
Kerry: Has been a leader of Senate opposition to drilling in the Arctic refuge and once threatened a filibuster on the issue. He argues that energy development in the refuge would irrevocably damage one of the world's last great wildernesses without reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil or lowering energy prices.
Kerry proposes raising the average fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to 36 miles per gallon, including providing $10 billion in government incentives to help the automobile industry retool. He wants to increase the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and improve energy efficiency.
"America can't drill its way out of this predicament; we have to invent our way out of it," Kerry said.
Background: A recent Energy Information Administration report says that if oil drilling in the refuge began today, it would take about nine years for the oil to begin flowing. That might stem the decline in domestic production, the report said, but the United States would still have to import two-thirds of its oil because of growing demand.
"Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could countermand any potential price impact of (Arctic refuge) coastal plain production by reducing its exports by an equal amount," the report said.
 
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