Responsible development should be part of energy plan

  • Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:49pm
  • Opinion

It would be tempting to say that the Obama administration left Alaska a lump of coal this week — but finding a lump of coal would require resource extraction that the outgoing administration clearly isn’t interested in pursuing.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama used his executive powers to withdraw most U.S. waters in the Arctic Ocean from future lease sales, as well as certain areas off the Atlantic coast. Whether the next president is able to reverse the decision remains to be seen; proponents of exploration point to a 2008 decision from President George W. Bush to make previously withdrawn areas available for leasing while environmental advocacy groups promise a court fight. Alaska’s congressional delegation vowed to work with the next administration on reversing the decision.

Canada is taking similar action in the Arctic, though it’s worth noting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leases subject to period review — not a permanent ban.

In the short term, the decision doesn’t change much in Alaska. The Arctic Ocean is a difficult environment in which to drill — to say the least — and between disappointing results, regulatory uncertainty and the low price of oil, Shell walked away from all but one of its leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas earlier this year. So even as the state looks desperately for the next big find to fill the pipeline, it wasn’t likely to come from the Arctic Ocean any time soon.

The long term effects — should the decision not be quickly reversed — have the potential for a much greater impact in Alaska. As we noted, resource extraction in the Arctic isn’t easy to start with, and throwing up more roadblocks to development or making more land off limits doesn’t give the industry much incentive to make a long-term investment here.

Certainly, we think the U.S. should continue to pursue alternative energy sources, and we agree that the Arctic needs environmental protection.

Where we disagree is with the notion that oil and gas exploration and development can’t be done in an environmentally responsible manner, or that the entire Arctic needs to be treated as a nature preserve.

The United States will continue to rely on oil and gas to meet its energy needs for decades to come, and we would much rather see those resource needs met from within our own country, where we can ensure responsible development with reasonable oversight, instead of politically unstable regions like the Middle East, or political adversaries, like Russia.

President-elect Donald Trump has made clear his goal U.S. energy self-sufficiency, and his Cabinet nominees would appear poised to reverse a number of Obama administration policies. We hope that a responsible approach to exploration and development is part of the plan.

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened