Cutting off Arctic drilling options would harm US energy security

Maintaining Arctic exploration options in the Obama administration’s next five-year leasing plan is critical for America’s future energy security. Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas are estimated to contain more oil and natural gas than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, and the majority of the U.S. Arctic potential is located in relatively shallow water depths of less than 100 meters. Given the long lead time required to develop offshore projects, taking Arctic production opportunities off the table could delay pursuit of this potential for at least a decade (“President Obama should remove Arctic Ocean from offshore oil lease program,” Sept. 2, The Hill’s Congress Blog).

Eighty-two percent of Alaska voters support increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas resources, according to a 2015 poll. Alaska’s long history of energy development demonstrates that oil and natural gas can be produced safely, without adversely impacting the state’s wildlife and environment. Alaska state Rep. Ben Nageak, a member of the Inupiat tribe who was born in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, speaks for many in stating, “Our native people have been extracting resources from our lands since time immemorial” and “have proven that we can and will act responsibly.”

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Decades of experience operating in Arctic environments shows the oil and natural gas industry has the technology and expertise to safely develop Arctic offshore resources. U.S. presence in the Arctic is also important for security and geopolitical priorities. Former Clinton administration Defense Department Secretary William Cohen, along with 14 other military experts, recently wrote the Department of Interior urging the Obama administration to keep the Arctic in the plan because doing otherwise “would harm our ability to protect our interests and to promote cooperation in the region.” While Russia and China have significantly increased their presence and activity in the area, “Arctic capabilities of the U.S. have dramatically declined ... [and] our reduced Arctic presence and capabilities challenges the U.S. ability to positively influence all developments in the region,” the letter continued.

Energy resources in the Arctic will be developed with or without U.S. participation. But withdrawing from the Arctic means forfeiting energy security and the opportunity to ensure best practices are applied. The United States did not become the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer overnight. Our success is the result of production set in motion years ago. To maintain U.S. energy leadership, and the significant economic and security benefits it brings, the Obama administration must maximize energy opportunities in its next five-year plan. 

From Erik Milito, director of Upstream, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C.


When will the follicly challenged get a shot at 50 Most Beautiful?

This year, I read with interest, as I have every year since I was elected to the House in 2006, The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful list. All of these years, I have remained silent. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I am an advocate for civil rights. I can’t help but think where we would be if advocates had remained silent on civil rights, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights. Albert Einstein famously said, “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” I will remain silent no longer.

I have noticed on the list of The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful, there is no one who is follicly challenged — with the possible exception of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), although I personally believe his hairline is a matter of personal style rather than God-given/taken — or a senior. I feel that I must speak up. This discrimination must end. Now!

From Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Washington, D.C.