Former Pentagon chief: Arctic drilling order could threaten security

Former Pentagon chief: Arctic drilling order could threaten security
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Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta says President Trump’s executive order to expand offshore drilling could threaten national security.

Writing on CNN, Panetta, who led the Pentagon under former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Russian social media is the modern-day Trojan horse Trump records robo-call for Gillespie: He'll help 'make America great again' MORE from 2011 to 2013, took aim particularly at drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

Trump did not specifically allow drilling there, but it is a likely result of his order that the Interior Department reconsider Obama’s bans.

Panetta argued that with the Arctic taking on an increased role in defense, shipping and resource extraction circles, drilling is likely to cause problems due to the climate change and environmental impacts of producing oil and natural gas there.

“It is a fact that expanding oil and gas development in the Arctic would add further stress to the climate, not to mention damage to the area's fragile species and ecosystems. It also would be an invitation to other nations to engage in the same kind of exploitation,” Panetta wrote.

Panetta said the United States’ position as an Arctic nation is complicated by the fact that it has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty, a convention written in the 1980s that’s meant to govern how businesses and nations treat the oceans.

But ignoring the threats of Arctic drilling can only make that worse, he said.

“There is a strong consensus among defense and intelligence leaders that the Arctic is critical to our national security,” he wrote.

“It then stands to reason we should not take steps that will exacerbate the threat to Arctic resources and global security by drilling in a strategic and environmentally sensitive part of the world. Melting ice, rising seas, droughts, famine and floods are already impacting large populations, creating refugee flows and undermining the stability of fragile nations.”

Panetta also served as Central Intelligence Agency director under Obama. He was chief of staff and later director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bill ClintonBill ClintonTop Oversight Dem pushes back on Uranium One probe Bill Clinton hits Trump, tax reform plan in Georgetown speech The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE.

Companies have never produced oil and natural gas from mobile drilling rigs in the United States’ portion of the Arctic Ocean, north of Alaska.

Royal Dutch Shell came closest when it drilling an exploratory well in 2015, but abandoned it after determining that it was not cost effective.

Obama declared late last year that a large swath of the U.S. Arctic would be off-limits to drilling indefinitely. Trump’s order rolled that back, but the administration would still have to separately lease drilling rights to the area in order to open it to drilling.