The US government’s Arctic policy will include responsible development of oil and natural gas resources in Alaska that meets the highest environmental and safety standards including global climate goals, a White House official said. But other speakers at the Atlantic Council’s Oct. 25 conference suggested that producing this oil and gas could help the federal government finance port construction and other projects to handle tourism and commercial shipping growth as sea ice melts and year-round maritime routes open.
“We commit to world-class safety and environmental standards that guide development decisions,” Amy Pope, vice-chair of the White House Arctic Executive Steering Committee, said in her keynote address. “We continue to take steps that reflect the bicameral and multicameral commitments of the US, Canada, and the Nordic states to conduct commercial activities, including oil and gas development, only when the highest safety and environmental standards are met, including national global climate and environmental goals.”
When it comes to energy security, the Obama administration’s Arctic strategy recognizes that the region holds oil and gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet US energy needs into the future, she said during the event, which was cosponsored by the Arctic Energy Center.
“Responsibly developing Arctic oil and gas resources aligns with the US all-of-the-above approach to developing domestic energy resources, whether it’s renewables, expanding oil and gas production, increasing efficiency and conservation efforts to reduce our reliance on imported oil, and strengthening our nation’s energy security,” Pope said.
“As part of this broader energy security strategy, we are committed to working with stakeholders in other Arctic states to explore energy resource development best practices and share experiences to make sure that we are producing oil and gas in environmentally responsible ways,” she said.
Other speakers agreed with Pope’s statement that close consultations and cooperation with Alaska’s government, native and indigenous populations, and other stakeholders will be essential if the state’s still considerable oil and gas potential is to be realized.
“The US has an unprecedented opportunity as an Arctic nation, a global economic superpower, and the world’s leading producer of oil and gas to have a major impact,” said Donald P. Loren, a retired US Navy rear admiral and a former Deputy US Assistant Secretary of Defense.
“Each of us understands that national security strategy is not only military, but economic, development, cyber, and more,” Loren said. “We recognize the geostrategic importance of the Arctic and its energy resource. The vast untapped stores of oil and gas in those areas could generate investments in ports and personnel for a strong military presence.”