Last year the U.S. consumed seven billion barrels of oil. Fifty-two percent of that – more than ANWR‘s entire economically-recoverable reserves – was imported. Put another way, 3.2 billion barrels from ANWR represent only about a 166-day supply of crude for America’s gluttonous consumption. Amory and Hunter Lovins estimate that if the refuge were opened to drilling and truly contained 3.2 billion barrels of economically-recoverable oil, it would yield 156,000 barrels of gasoline a day, enough to run 2% of the cars and light trucks in the U.S. That much gasoline, however, could be saved if automobiles were made more efficient by just four-tenths of a mile per gallon. If automobiles, SUVs, and light trucks became four miles per gallon more efficient, it would be equivalent to developing an oil field 10 times the size of ANWR.
“The proponents of drilling have a difficult argument to win,” says Representative Markey, whose provision calling for increased fuel efficiency from 24 to 27 miles per gallon within five years was defeated in the House last August. “They’re saying we should drill in a pristine reserve, but it would be wrong to ask the automobile companies to increase fuel efficiency by three miles per gallon.”
from the May 13, 2002 Sports Illustrated