Obama Admin officials express support for Arctic oil and gas development

houston-energy-insiderHouston Energy Insider | October 28, 2016 | Heinsider

Obama Administration officials and former leaders of U.S. Armed Forces expressed support for Arctic oil and gas development at an Atlantic Council event on Geopolitics, Security, and Energy in the Arctic, sponsored by the Arctic Energy Center, yesterday afternoon.

Amy Pope, vice chair of the White House Arctic Executive Steering Community and deputy Homeland Security advisor and deputy assistant to the President in the White House National Security Council, said the Arctic will “likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet U.S. energy needs into the future,” and that “responsibly developing Arctic oil and gas resources aligns with United States’ ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to developing domestic energy resources.”

Admiral Robert Papp, the State Department’s special representative for the Arctic and former commandant of the Coast Guard, backed the region’s inclusion in the Administration’s offshore oil and gas leasing program: “I personally agree with all our Alaskan friends who have been here. We have to maintain our options [by including the Arctic]. And I think that somehow encouraging further development is important, simply because we are going to be dependent upon petroleum and gas for a long time.”The comments come as the Department of Interior prepares to announce its 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program later this year. At present, two Arctic sales are included in the plan (the Beaufort Sea in 2020, and the Chukchi Sea 2022), but they are targeted by an aggressive campaign by environmental activist groups to pressure the Administration into canceling the sales and banning drilling in the Arctic permanently.

During the event, Pope stressed that consultation with Alaska Native and indigenous communities is a “core principle of our national strategy for the Arctic region” and “absolutely paramount to a successful approach in the region.”

North Slope leaders have repeatedly spoken in favor of offshore development in Arctic waters. Earlier this week, Arctic Iñupiat Offshore (AIO), a joint venture of organizations that collectively represent around 13,000 Iñupiat people, announced that it was joining the Arctic Coalition, a national campaign to urge the Obama Administration to include the Arctic in the forthcoming leasing plan. As a part of that announcement, AIO also unveiled a six-figure advertising campaign highlighting Native support for development.

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