Meeting the world’s energy needs requires that we prudently develop all available sources, including the abundant oil and natural gas found in the Arctic offshore Alaska.

According to a study conducted last year by the National Petroleum Council, the Arctic already accounts for about 25 percent of the world’s natural gas and 10 percent of its oil production. In addition, the U.S. Arctic is estimated to have 48 billion barrels of oil equivalent of offshore undiscovered conventional resource potential. These resources could go a long way to making up for expected future declines in domestic production and “extend[ing] the energy security benefits the United States is currently enjoying,” the NPC concluded.

But if we are going to safely and successfully develop America’s Arctic energy for tomorrow, we need to make far-sighted policy decisions today. President Obama faces an important decision later this year: whether to include the Alaskan Arctic offshore in the upcoming Offshore Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing plan.

Much is at stake. If the Administration cancels Arctic offshore leasing, it would not only undermine America’s long-term energy security. It would also threaten Alaska’s entire economy, and the many native communities in the state that depend on oil and gas development to maintain their traditional way of life.

As Wainwright, Alaska’s mayor recently put it: “For Alaska’s Iñupiat it remains very clear. We need to balance ecological preservation with responsible resource development to ensure a sustainable future for our people and our culture.”

To highlight the importance of keeping the door open to Arctic offshore development, 20 different Alaskan native, labor, business and consumer groups formed a coalition that recently launched an education campaign in Washington. You can see their ad at the coalition’s Arctic Energy Center website.

Adding their voice to this debate are former military officers and defense experts. Several recently published a letter in the Washington Post arguing that maintaining industry investment and presence in the Alaskan Arctic is vital to America’s national security.

ExxonMobil has been a leader in safely developing Arctic oil and natural gas resources around the world for nearly a century. We have shown it can be done safely and responsibly, using new technologies and upholding the highest standards of operations integrity and environmental protection. Let’s keep America’s options open and keep the Arctic in the plan.


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