Does opening the Alaskan wilderness...?

… for oil include gold mining and any other pursuits?
Why and or why not?
I personally believe it should ,from a fairness standpoint.
FWIW I also believe it shouldn’t be opened except in national emergencys.

Is there gold up there? I thought that all of the economically feasible gold was mined out of Alaska a long long time ago.

I’m completely ignorant on the subject, but I would think that the area’s only natural resources are snow, oil, snow caribou and snow.

You may be right about commercial operations except for the big mine near Nome.Can’t remember the name right now. It is a strip mine.
I was more concerned about the prohibition of prospecting in the national forests. The little guy cannot even go in with his dredge or high banker or even just a shovel and gold pan.

Not that I don’t share your concerns justwannano but I would like to point out that most of the proposals for oil drilling are in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Intrusions for wildlife refuges are less restrictive than those for Wilderness Areas.

A PBS article on the proposed development in the Wildlife Refuge is sickeningly reasonable. With modern slant drilling techniques they only need a modest 100 acre compound to tap nearly 100 square miles of oil bearing land. The test wells can now be drilled more quickly and with less impact. Gone are the days when they would bulldoze through the permafrost to makes roads. Instead, gravel is deposited on the surface to create temporary roadbed.

However nice as all of this sounds, greater scope is required to put this in perspective. The Alaskan reserves represent only a short lived supply for our entire nation’s needs. That industry clings to hydrocarbon based fuels is anathema to the desparately needed shift away from such polluting technology. Development of fuel cells, hybrid electro-combustion drive systems, flywheels and especially hydrogen fueled vehicles are far more important than continuing outdated modes of propulsion.

We are currently held hostage by industry’s unethical adherance to an obselete and environmentally damaging technology. Until there are more substantial incentives (or penalties), nothing will be done to change this problem. No matter how significant the retooling that industry faces is, the urgencey of reversing the damage done by decades of pollution ranks infinitely higher.

Zenster,you mentioned

Instead, gravel is deposited on the surface to create temporary roadbed.

Gee I wonder how many years of freeze and thaw it will take before there is a permanent road?

I saw the pbs special but they compared the damage to a postage stamp in a 4 bedroom stamp.

I would guess that gold mining could say about the same thing.

What still makes me wonder is the fact that an individual could go in and mine and not make an ecological dent the size of ( . ) in the same 4 bedroom house.

Gold mining still happens every day in Alaska. But the thing is, 99% of Alaska is public land: National Parks, National Forests, National Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Areas, Military bases, State land, Native corporation land, etc, etc, etc.

While gold isn’t a huge contributer to the economy there are lots of gold mines. Except the days of a guy, a dog sled, and a gold pan are over. There are some open-pit mines, but mostly placer mines (that’s were you take a firehose and blast off the loess deposits over buried streambeds). But Lumber, Oil, Fishing, Tourism and the Military are the biggest, Gold is probabably down at #10 or lower. But you can still mine gold on public lands, just not ALL public lands.

And Wildlife Refuges have stricter rules about development than other public lands, pretty much “no development”. That’s why it would take the congress and the president to authrorize oil exploration there. We have good reason to suspect that there’s lots of oil there, but there’s no reason to suspect that there’s plenty of gold there. If you want to go gold mining in Alaska there are plenty of other places you can do it. But if you want to drill for oil there really aren’t many other places.

OK, and another thing, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge isn’t really any different than the rest of the North Slope. The state wasn’t destroyed by the drilling at Prudhoe Bay, Prudhoe Bay wasn’t destroyed.

I think people down here have a hard time understanding just how large Alaska is and how large ANWR is. Putting an oil well in Pennsylvania wouldn’t trash Pennsylvania, would it?

Here’s a link to an Atlantic Monthly article about changes in the Oil Industry. It’s mostly about the oil patch in Texas, but is relevant to this discussion.

This is incorrect, or at the very best, outdated information. From a report on the National Petroleum Reserve at the Bureau of Land Management website:

Now let’s have no more speculation about how oil exploration roads in ANWR will destroy the environment.


What you are describing here—"(that’s were you take a firehose and blast off the loess deposits over buried streambeds"…is hydraulicing.I believe that is illegal now.And thats good.
A placer is a deposit of sand or gravel containing gold etc.Usually ancient riverbeds but it can be in current riverbeds. The old timers placer mined with a gold pan and a sluice box.In the desert they would winnow the material and then pan the rest. Today they use dry washers.