Sen. Begich: U.S. needs Arctic oil and gas policy changes

mark begichNews-Miner | May 24, 2016 | Senator Mark Begich

With the price of oil down and news of companies halting their drilling efforts in the Arctic, it is easy to get caught up in what seems to be an ongoing drip of negative headlines surrounding Alaska’s oil and gas industry and its impact on our economy.

However, we cannot forget the sheer volume and long term value of Alaska’s resources. We have

35 billion barrels of oil and 161 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In fact, production in Alaska’s offshore Arctic waters alone could last for 50 years and generate tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

That is why, as Senator, I fought to diversify our energy development strategy. I took on federal regulators and we saw progress opening new federal lands and waters to oil and gas development. After 25 years of stalled progress, the Obama Administration finally permitted oil and gas exploration in waters off Alaska’s North Slope and allowed work to get underway in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), which is expected to produce 18 million barrels of oil per year. However, there is more the federal government can and should be doing, and we can’t let the latest news derail the important progress we’ve made.

Read the full op-ed here.

Mark Begich served as a U.S. Senator from Alaska from 2008-2014. He is now the president and CEO of the Northern Compass Group, an Anchorage-based consulting firm.