Oceana does little to further an important and complex discussion

The Hill-01The Hill | September 29, 2016 | Lucas Frances

Yesterday the environmental group Oceana authored a piece in these pages which attacked the Arctic Energy Center and Arctic Coalition as fronts for the oil and gas industry. We at the AEC welcome a discussion about Arctic energy development; it is a complex and multi-faceted topic, which deserves greater exploration.

But we also believe that that discussion must be rooted in fact and should acknowledge the views of experts who understand the issue best. Unfortunately the article, like others before it from many in the environmental community, shows a regrettable lack of understanding of either point, misrepresenting our message and the broad coalition of Alaskans who directly understand what’s at stake in the Arctic.

Oceana’s piece implies that the Arctic Coalitioncampaign is solely the work of the AEC and thus the oil and gas industry. As the group’s name suggests, that is simply not the case. The Arctic Coalition is made up of 20 different organizations, including Native groups, labor, industry, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce and academia. While it is true that AEC is (transparently) sponsored by IPAA and AOGA, the other members are not and have very different mandates and objectives.

The point, as the advertisement makes clear, is that offshore energy development is about much more than just energy, it touches on every facet of life in the Arctic. That, ultimately, is why such a broad collection of organizations with different perspectives support offshore energy. Simply writing them all off as the oil industry is at best a lazy misrepresentation, and at worse a deliberate distortion of their different and varied viewpoints.

It also touches on a second point however. Unlike Oceana, 16 of the 20 Coalition members are from Alaska. There is great irony in a DC based organization attempting to save the Arctic on behalf of the Alaskans who actually live there. This is a point that Native community leaders have made on no fewer than six occasions in recent months, repeatedly asking the environmental community not to appropriate their voice to further their own agenda.

Read the 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.