Generals: Keep America’s Options Open in the Arctic

August 10, 2016 in Blog

Recently, many military experts and national security advisors have raised their voices about Arctic drilling in anticipation of the upcoming five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Plan. Whether it is through public statements, formal comments submitted to the administration, or opinion pieces, these experts have made it clear that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) should keep the Beaufort and Chukchi Arctic leases in its 2017-2022 Plan.

The latest example of this chorus comes from the former national security advisor to President Obama and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, General James Jones, and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO militaries, General Joseph Ralston.

You may recall that General Ralston was a panelist at the Arctic Energy Center’s offshore investment briefing that took place earlier this summer. At the event, he explained the strategic military importance of Alaska and how energy development could bolster the military’s response capacity.

This week, the two generals published an op-ed on CNBC in which they made a strong case for keeping America’s options open in the Arctic. Ralston and Jones outline the gravity of the issue saying,

“As two former Commanders of NATO militaries, let us be clear: removing Arctic lease sales will only further signal a strategic withdrawal from the region. This decision will have a profound effect on our ability to project presence and maintain U.S. interests in the Arctic. Energy and natural resources have long provided the lifeblood for economic investment and growth, buoying the local economy, supporting communities on the North Slope, and providing a foundation for continued military investment.”

Energy development in the Arctic is good for America’s national security. Time and time again we have heard military leaders, national security experts, and even the Department of Defense explain how Arctic leases can advance our nation’s military and security strategies. BOEM should heed the advice of these military leaders and ensure that our nation’s Arctic energy development options remain open.