Distinction With A Difference: Arctic Lease Sales Should Go Forward

breaking energy-01Breaking Energy | June 16, 2016 | Lucas Frances

The Department of the Interior may have decided to exclude the Atlantic region from its upcoming five-year offshore leasing plan, but the existing lease sales in the Arctic should go forward as planned. As the public comment period for the proposed program closes today, it is essential that the federal government hear the voices articulating how the Arctic and the Atlantic present different challenges and opportunities for the country – and that continued Arctic oil and gas development will contribute uniquely and significantly to national security by shoring up infrastructure and capabilities in the Arctic region and fortifying America’s energy security for decades to come.

At the moment, America’s presence in the Arctic remains meager, even as other countries, including those not even considered official Arctic states, continue to ramp up activities – and military infrastructure – in the region. Just last week, Russia unveiled a brand new addition to its 41-strong icebreaker fleet. By contrast, the U.S. only has two that are operational: one that is “well beyond” its originally intended 30-year service life, and the other a medium icebreaker intended for scientific research.

Without boosting its presence in the region, America risks being dangerously unprepared for emergency situations – and ceding its leadership position in the Arctic to more active states.

The energy industry, by bringing its own icebreakers and Arctic-capable resources to support their activities, will bolster American infrastructure and capabilities across Alaska. For example, the Coast Guard has relied on the same oil and gas Arctic-class vessel for tworescue missions in recent years.

Arctic oil and gas development will also strengthen American leadership on the world stage both in the short run, by establishing our presence in the region, and in the long run, by ensuring that the country’s energy needs will continue to be met by our own homegrown resources.

Read full op-ed here.

Lucas Frances is a spokesperson for the Arctic Energy Center, a joint initiative of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the Independent Petroleum Association of America to further public understanding of the science, technology and opportunity associated with Arctic energy exploration and development.