In National Journal, Consumer Energy Alliance President David Holt responds to the question “Can Arctic Drilling Be Done Safely?” with a resounding yes, outlining how responsible arctic development is paramount in ensuring West Coast energy stability and national energy security.
The U.S. Arctic holds tremendous potential to enhance U.S. energy security,
generate more than 50,000 jobs across the United States and supply Americans
with abundant energy resources. And it can be done safely.
Development in the Arctic does have its challenges. The unique environment requires
thoughtful drilling practices and a smart use of new technology. The Obama
administration’s forthcoming Arctic safety standards must permit operators the
flexibility to implement the most effective options when it comes to safety and
protecting the environment. Tapping into the American ingenuity is
essential for U.S. Arctic development – after all, we are currently using this
American know-how to help other nation’s develop their Arctic resources.
Keep in mind how important strategically Alaska is to the United States. The 50
million citizens who live on the West Coast rely heavily on North Slope oil
delivered by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which is seeing a decline
in shipments. Arctic development is needed to reverse this downward trend that
is putting the pipeline’s longevity in question because TAPS cannot operate at
Without TAPS, West Coast consumers will feel the price squeeze, but so will residents
of Alaska. The State of Alaska relies on energy revenues for about 90
percent of its budget. Reducing the flow of oil through TAPS jeopardizes
funding for public education, highways, or social programs helping the most
Arctic energy is also an opportunity to boost energy security. The International
Energy Agency predicts the United States will become the world’s largest energy
producer within three years, however, production will plateau after the year
2020. If the federal government permits exploration of the Chukchi and Beaufort
Seas now, these resources can come online in time to buttress a potential
decline in lower 48 oil production.
In 1990s, politicians who opposed oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge argued that it would be decades before the oil would come online.
Decades later Alaska is producing 70 percent less oil than it did just 20 years
Acting now to open the Arctic is the prudent move.