Cutting off Arctic drilling options would harm US energy security

The Hill-01The Hill |  September 19, 2016 | Erik Milito

Maintaining Arctic exploration options in the Obama administration’s next five-year leasing plan is critical for America’s future energy security. Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas are estimated to contain more oil and natural gas than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, and the majority of the U.S. Arctic potential is located in relatively shallow water depths of less than 100 meters. Given the long lead time required to develop offshore projects, taking Arctic production opportunities off the table could delay pursuit of this potential for at least a decade (“President Obama should remove Arctic Ocean from offshore oil lease program,” Sept. 2, The Hill’s Congress Blog).

Eighty-two percent of Alaska voters support increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas resources, according to a 2015 poll. Alaska’s long history of energy development demonstrates that oil and natural gas can be produced safely, without adversely impacting the state’s wildlife and environment. Alaska state Rep. Ben Nageak, a member of the Inupiat tribe who was born in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, speaks for many in stating, “Our native people have been extracting resources from our lands since time immemorial” and “have proven that we can and will act responsibly.”

Decades of experience operating in Arctic environments shows the oil and natural gas industry has the technology and expertise to safely develop Arctic offshore resources. U.S. presence in the Arctic is also important for security and geopolitical priorities. Former Clinton administration Defense Department Secretary William Cohen, along with 14 other military experts, recently wrote the Department of Interior urging the Obama administration to keep the Arctic in the plan because doing otherwise “would harm our ability to protect our interests and to promote cooperation in the region.”

Read the full op-ed here.

Erik Milito is the director of Upstream for American Petroleum Institute.