Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton sent a letter Monday to President Obama urging him to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The letter comes on the 50th anniversary of ANWR’s establishment.
“In the 50 years since ANWR was established, there have been adequate technological advances whereby it is possible to increase our nation’s domestic energy supply while preserving the sanctity of nature,” wrote Upton, who is the current ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and environmental.
Upton is also in the race to become chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. He is facing a tough challenge from Rep. Joe Barton of Texas.
“As ranking Republican on the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, I understand the politics of ANWR very well, and acknowledge that the base of your party is uncomfortable with lifting the moratorium on exploration and production in ANWR,” wrote Upton.
“Nevertheless, I urge you to put our nation’s needs ahead of politics, and implore you not to make it impossible to ever explore for natural resources in ANWR.”
Barton also argued that opening up ANWR would alleviate some of the nation’s high unemployment numbers, citing an ICF International Study that said the area could produce up to 62,000 jobs by 2030, and billions of dollars in revenue for the U.S.
“Those are real jobs and real revenues, neither of which would be created by increasing the size and scope of the federal government or by further taxing our already over-taxed citizens,” added Upton. “I urge you not to permanently block access to the abundant natural resources that lie in ANWR.”
Upton’s letter comes the same day the American Petroleum Institute – the oil industry’s leading lobbying organization – pledged to fight the Interior Department’s ban on offshore drilling by putting pressure on lawmakers.