White House ‘Playing Politics’ with Ban on Arctic Development

December 20, 2016 in Blog

Washington D.C., December 20: Earlier this afternoon the Obama Administration announced that it will ban offshore oil and gas development throughout much of the U.S. Arctic. Under the authority of an obscure provision in a 1953 law, the decision designates 115 million acres of the US Arctic, including the entire Chukchi Sea, off limits to oil and gas activity.

Commenting, Lucas Frances, Spokesperson for the Arctic Energy Center:

“This is a deeply frustrating development and one that will mean a bleak economic future for Alaska. After the White House cited a lack of industry interest in the Arctic for removing the region from the offshore leasing program, we then saw lease sales in the Beaufort Sea and North Slope which generated $18 million in revenue.

“The Arctic Energy Center’s research has shown that a significant majority of Native and Alaskan people support offshore energy development in the Arctic, in a large measure because of the essential role the industry plays in the region’s economy. By designating Arctic waters off limits for energy development, the President has prioritized environmental concerns over the well-being of the American people.”


The results of the Arctic Energy Center’s opinion survey of Alaskan’s views on offshore Arctic energy development can be found here. They show that:

  • Alaskans overwhelmingly support offshore energy development in the Arctic, with more than three quarters (76%) supportive.
  • Over two third (66%) believe that the opinion of local residents should matter most on the decision of whether to keep Arctic offshore acreage in the government’s five-year leasing plan (66%).
  • Among self-identified Native respondents, 72% support offshore resource development. 79% believe that local opinions should matter most.
  • A consistent two-thirds of Alaskans favor offshore development when questioned about the economic impact (68% support), national security implications (67% support), or environmental consequences (64% support).
  • Importantly, Alaskans want to keep all options open when it comes to the Arctic (64% support) rather than making decisions that will reduce the United States’ future choices.