White House Officials, Former Military Leaders Support Arctic Oil & Gas Development: In Their Own Words

October 28, 2016 in Blog

At a Geopolitics, Security, and Energy in the Arctic event that was hosted by the Atlantic Council and sponsored by the Arctic Energy Center (AEC) earlier this week, senior White House officials and former leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces expressed support for Arctic oil and gas development, saying that it “aligns with United States’ ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to domestic energy resources,” that “encouraging further development is important,” and that it “not only protects our interests in the Arctic, but will also provide us the energy security and flexibility to further reduce our reliance on adversarial nations.”

These remarks come as momentum builds for including the Arctic in the Interior Department’s 2017-2022 offshore oil and gas leasing program, which is expected to be finalized in the coming months. On Monday, Arctic Iñupiat Offshore, a joint venture of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and six North Slope village corporations, joined the Arctic Coalition, a collection of 21 Alaska and nationwide organizations calling on Interior to allow for Arctic oil and gas leasing. On Tuesday, AIO and AEC launched a multi-platform ad campaign – the Arctic Coalition’s second in as many months – to show D.C. the broad-based support for Arctic drilling in Alaska.

Amy Pope, Vice Chair of the White House Arctic Executive Steering Committee and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President in the White House National Security Council:

“And on the specific question of energy security, our strategy recognizes that the region holds sizable proved and potential oil and natural gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet U.S. energy needs into the future. But responsibly developing Arctic oil and gas resources aligns with United States’ ‘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.”

“… we will continue consultation with Alaskan Native and Indigenous communities. This is a core principle of our national strategy for the Arctic region. The Arctic Executive Steering Committee is charged to maximize transparency and promote collaboration with the state of Alaska, Alaskan Native tribal governments, Alaska Native governments, and Indigenous communities. This consultation is absolutely paramount to a successful approach in the region.”

The State Department’s Special Representative for the Arctic and former Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr.:

“I would say, I personally agree with all our Alaskan friends who have been here. We have to maintain our options. 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.”

“… when Shell made the announcement that they were leaving – I was actually up there for the Arctic Energy Summit being held in Fairbanks, and at midnight before the summit the announcement was made and the moderator of the first session actually called for a moment of silence. I mean that’s how much the impact was.”

Adm. Thomas Barrett, former Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation and now head of the Alyeska Pipeline Service:

“[The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) has] been transformative for Alaska’s economy and instrumental to national security. So one-third of Alaskan jobs are tied to oil. Alaska Native corporations … are major players in the state economically. Fundamentally, it’s good, sound infrastructure that there is no easy replacement for.”

“We’re challenged because we have less drilling. I know it’s counterintuitive – we used to do as much as 2.1 million barrels a day; now we are moving about 500,000 barrels. Kind of like the red light on your car, ‘add oil to your engine,’ is on: That’s where we are. Its water and wax, moving less oil through that line, in an Arctic environment … it’s a significant challenge.”

“But long-term, the best reason for us and the infrastructure is more oil. The oil is there, and the gas is there. So onshore, near shore, offshore Alaska, fundamentally 13 percent … of the world’s undiscovered oil resources are there. One-third of U.S. resources are in the Arctic. … And the U.S. will need that resource for many, many years to come. … The ability to explore, to help produce, and to move safely is there.”

Former Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Donald P. Loren:

“Military leaders and diplomats and national security experts recognize the geostrategic importance of the Arctic and our Arctic energy resources to our national security strategy as a whole. We understand that we possess vast untapped sources of oil and natural gas in the area and that the investments made in developing these resources could extend to investments in ports, personnel and infrastructure necessary to maintain a strong presence in the Arctic region. … We must send a signal to the other Arctic nations and the world that we want to maintain our position as a global energy leader, as a nation that must protect our interests in an increasingly strategic region of our world.”

“Developing Alaska oil and natural gas resources not only protects our interests in the Arctic, but will also provide us the energy security and flexibility to further reduce our reliance on adversarial nations.”

“Our leaders are in a position today that can move us to a path of greater security by allowing the responsible development of our Arctic energy resources. They could demonstrate that America is serious about our position as a leader of the Arctic nations and as a global economic and energy superpower, and as chair of the Arctic Council. Or they could adopt policies that move us away, that slow, or halt, future Arctic energy development.”

Former Lt. Gov. of Alaska Mead Treadwell:

“[TAPS] is the largest single private investment in the United States, and it would be a bloody shame and a stupid decision by the United States not to keep that pipeline full and not to use the existing resources that we spent hundreds of billions of dollars a year to maintain and update to produce energy for our nation.”

“The 6 coastal states in the Arctic are all doing some form of offshore exploration and development and the United States should lead there. … This is a place where the technology that is needed in the Arctic, America has been leading with. And to leave the Chukchi Sea off the list, to minimize what’s in the Beaufort Sea on the list, for other reasons, in my mind, is not the right thing to do. Other nations will go ahead. Russia clearly will. …. I don’t think it makes a hair’s worth of sense for America to retreat in the Arctic and retreat on what oil might be used. … We should not be retreating from the Arctic; we should be engaging in the Arctic and paying great close attention to that resource frontier.”

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Joseph Ralston:

“We’ve got to put more oil into [TAPS]. If that pipeline shuts down, the Alaska economy is going to really be in trouble, and all the Costcos, the Sam’s Clubs, the Walmarts that are there today to keep the cost of living for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines under control is going to get very, very expensive. … So we’ve got to get the economic investments and infrastructure… back to the leasing in the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, we need to keep those options alive.”

Former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. James Loy:

“We can firmly say that access and science remain legitimate concerns for our country, that national security issues are now very real and getting more serious as days and weeks and months go by, and that we seem to be falling further behind … and that we hamstring ourselves with our own decisions, and to step back a step further would, I think, put us in even more jeopardy than is the case today. Other nations have proven their ability to be very aggressive, the resource exploitation is actually going to happen in the Arctic whether it happens with the U.S. as a participant, wherein … the technical expertise with regard to safety and response is very much a peek of what the U.S. has the capability to do and do well.”