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WALLACE: Let's start with the most obvious solution, domestic drilling. And as prices soar, public opinion is turning around on this subject. According to a recent Gallup poll, as you can see there, 57 percent now favor drilling in areas that are off-limits.
Senator Dorgan, if we started drilling in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, if we started drilling offshore, if we started mining shale rock out West, over time we could dramatically reduce the price of energy and our dependence on foreign oil.
Why are Democrats blocking drilling as part of the mix of solutions?
DORGAN: Well, first of all, I don't believe that statement is true. I mean, we have opened up at least 181 in the Gulf of Mexico, substantial oil and gas reserves.
I and Senator Bingaman joined Senator Domenici and then Senator Talent as the four people that offered the legislation to open that up.
You started with ANWR, which everybody always starts with, but even John McCain has voted against drilling in ANWR. He said, "We ought not drill in the Everglades, we ought not drill in the Grand Canyon, we ought not drill in ANWR."
I believe we need to do a lot of things, including additional production, including offshore production, but we also need to move dramatically toward renewable energy as well.
And one final point. In North Dakota we have just had the largest assessment — North Dakota and Montana — in what's called the Bakken shale field, the largest assessment of recoverable oil reserves that was ever issued in the lower 48 — over four billion recoverable barrels of oil.
So there is a lot of drilling going on, and I hope that we see more in the right places.
WALLACE: I just want to follow up with you for a second before I bring in your colleagues here. ANWR — and let's take a look, because we have a map of ANWR.
In a refuge the size of the state of South Carolina, we're talking about drilling in an area the size of Washington's Reagan Airport. ANWR contains 10 billion barrels of oil. Can we really afford to put that off limits?
DORGAN: Well, there's far more oil in the Gulf of Mexico than in ANWR, far more oil there. And I'm someone who believes we ought to be drilling in a portion of that.
But as I said, even Senator John McCain has voted against drilling in ANWR. Don't lay that just at the feet of Democrats. That is a large area set aside in legislation signed by Dwight Eisenhower. To suggest that ought to be the hood ornament for what we do in terms of solving our energy problem is just wrong.
We need additional drilling. We need renewables. We need conservation, efficiency — all of those things in a very aggressive way.