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Safe Arctic energy development

Last week a number of members of Congress asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to strip Arctic lease sales from the upcoming five-year oil and gas leasing program. “The Arctic Ocean should be permanently protected from oil drilling,” they wrote. Indeed, “the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must be left undeveloped.”

Yet at a recent public appearance, Secretary Jewell made Arctic_Potential_03-2015 clear she considers the keep-it-in-the-ground arguments as lacking perspective.

“It’s going to take a very long time before we can wean ourselves from fossil fuels,” she said. “So I think that to keep it in the ground is naïve, to say we could shift to 100 percent renewables is naïve.”

It’s good to know the secretary has her eyes wide open to energy realities as she considers what to do with the congressional request.

It’s also good to know the Obama administration has previously affirmed that U.S. Arctic oil and natural gas resources can be developed safely and responsibly.

That was the conclusion of a groundbreaking study about Arctic issues published last year by the National Petroleum Council. As Deputy Energy Secretary Liz Sherwood-Randall emphasized, that study and its recommendations align with the Obama administration’s priorities.

None of this surprises us. ExxonMobil has been safely producing energy in Arctic conditions for nearly a century.

These are important points to keep in mind as pressure mounts from anti-oil activists to ditch the planned Arctic lease sales. Similarly, we should remember that the Arctic is one of the world’s largest sources of undiscovered recoverable petroleum resources.

As the world’s demand for energy continues to grow, we will need those resources. Fortunately, our industry has the capacity to recover them safely and responsibly.

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