Fox News reporter echoed Hannity's misleading claims on ANWR drillingMarch 11, 2005 5:20 PM EST ››› ANDREW SEIFTER
Two days after Fox News host Sean Hannity, an avowed conservative, presented a series of misleading claims to advocate oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), William La Jeunesse, a hard news reporter for Fox News, repeated the same misleading claims. On the March 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, La Jeunesse reported that ANWR would produce "10 billion" barrels of oil or "nearly as much as we import [from] Saudi Arabia"; suggested that "experience shows" that drilling would not "hurt migrating caribou" in the refuge; and stated that the "oil exploration area ... total[s] 2,000 acres, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the refuge." In fact, available evidence contradicts each claim.
As Media Matters for America noted when Hannity touted the 10.4-billion-barrel estimate for ANWR's potential oil output, that figure includes large portions of ANWR where oil production is too costly to be economically viable for oil companies, and the proposal currently before Congress would not permit drilling in those areas. Two related claims presented by both Hannity and La Jeunesse -- that ANWR could produce "more than one million barrels a day" and that ANWR could provide "nearly as much as we import [from] Saudi Arabia " -- are based on the same assumption that drilling will occur in areas not considered economically viable for production. Media Matters also noted that projections of ANWR output by the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that it would fall far short of Saudi Arabian oil imports.
As Hannity did previously, La Jeunesse cited the example of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, an oil-drilling area where the number of caribou has dramatically increased, to support his claim that drilling in ANWR would not "hurt migrating caribou." But a U.S. Geological Survey report noted, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, that drilling in ANWR would likely lead to "impaired reproduction and calf survival for the 123,000 caribou" in ANWR.
La Jeunesse's claim that only 2,000 acres of ANWR would be affected by drilling ignores the network of roads and pipelines extending outside of the drilling area that would be needed to support oil production, as Media Matters also documented.