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ELLA E. ENNIS

Port Republic, Md.

Message to McCain: push drilling

James C. Capretta’s sober analysis (“It’s the economy stupid,” Op-Ed, Tuesday) of possible economic fixes Republican presidential nominee John McCain should consider for repairing our national economy doesn’t go far enough by limiting the discussion to tax policies.

With oil approaching $120 a barrel, Congress, led by a Democratic majority, has consistently voted against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil exploration and drilling. Our current federal energy policy needs to be revised to reflect current economic realities that are threatening our economy and national security.

The perceived threat to the environment that oil drilling allegedly represents has been the largest obstacle in this debate. In fact, only 1.5 million acres, or 8 percent, of the northern coast of ANWR would be considered for oil exploration. The remaining 17.5 million acres would remain permanently closed to any kind of development. Should oil be discovered, less than 2,000 acres of the Coastal Plain would be affected. That is less than half of 1 percent of ANWR that would be affected by production activity.

It has been demonstrated that oil and gas development can coexist successfully with wildlife in the Alaskan Arctic. It has been estimated that the central Arctic caribou herd, which migrates through Prudhoe Bay, has grown from 3,000 animals in the 1970s to its current level of 32,000 animals.

One cannot complain about the depreciation of the dollar against foreign currencies without understanding the consequences of the following fact: the United States continues to import an average of 60 percent of it’s domestic oil supply. That equates to sending more than $330 billion to Middle Eastern countries.

Additional benefits would be the anticipated jobs and tax revenues from opening ANWR to oil exploration and drilling. It has been estimated that between 250,000 and 735,000 ANWR jobs would be created by the development of the Coastal Plain.

The Congressional Research Service has also released a review of potential ANWR tax-revenue estimates stating that due to the increased price of oil, the 10-02 Area of ANWR could be worth $94.8 billion in federal income taxes and $42.8 billion in royalties totaling a $138 billion.

If Mr. McCain wants to truly distinguish himself politically while igniting our economy from its current slumber, he needs to incorporate the revision of our current federal energy policy to permit oil exploration and drilling in ANWR.

MICHAEL P. MULHALL

Rockville Centre, N.Y.

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