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Arctic Energy Center Weekly Roundup January 6-13, 2017

Ports bill paves way for deep-water Alaska port


This Week on AEC

In the News

Ports bill paves way for deep-water Alaska port
. IHS Journal of Commerce. Thanks to an easy-to-miss clause in the most recent US water infrastructure bill, shippers hoping to tap the small but growing Alaska market may eventually gain new access via an Arctic deep-draft port. Alaska’s Port of Nome, the most northern port in the state and the most likely candidate for the site, has pushed for the legislation, arguing that accommodations for larger vessels will not only cut operating costs for the maritime industry in the Arctic but also translate into lower transportation costs. The US Army Corps of Engineers, however, stalled progress on the port project last year, citing the need for further potential economic benefits. Now, language in the recent Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, or WIIN, Act extends justification for a feasibility study of the project, which means the project may not be dead in the water after all. “We’ve been anxiously awaiting the passage and hoping that it would pass and glad to see that it did,” Nome Port Director Joy Baker told JOC.com “We hopefully will see some movement here in the next 60 to 90 days.” Nome officials are confident the port will be able to provide the justification necessary to meet those considerations — the port is just more than 150 miles away from America’s less-than-amicable Russian neighbors in Siberia. While the project may find approval under the auspices of preserving national security, asked if it would nevertheless prove to be a driver for the port’s cargo business, Baker told JOC.com, “Absolutely.” Investment is investment, she said. That because justification has been extended to meet national security considerations does not mean a deeper harbor won’t benefit the shipping industry. “The benefit is realized by everyone,” Baker said.
Mattis affirms support for renewables; Pompeo hedges on climate. E&E News. President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of Defense affirmed his support for renewable energy during a mostly friendly three-hour confirmation hearing yesterday. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis took questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, receiving praise and support from lawmakers of both parties. Mattis also briefly spoke about the Arctic in response to a question from Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, who mentioned recent Russian military buildup in the region and "huge new claims in the Arctic for oil and gas reserves." Mattis promised that his DOD would be paying attention. "With the new sea routes of communication that are opening up to sea ice retreats, I think we're going to have to recognize this is an active area, whether it be for search and rescue, for patrolling, or to maintain sovereignty up along our Alaska coastline," he said.
Murkowski, Sullivan offer bill to open ANWR to oil drilling. E&E News. Alaska's two Republican senators hit the ground running in the new Congress with their campaign to provide greater access to oil-rich federal lands in their state. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan yesterday introduced legislation to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to petroleum development. The measure is certain to be aggressively fought by national environmental advocates determined to protect the remote region's diverse wildlife and ecologically sensitive lands. The bill, S. 49, would allow exploration on the almost 2,000 acres of land known as the 1002 area, located along ANWR's northern coast. A 1998 report by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the 1002 area contains an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But the Sierra Club and a handful of other environmental groups are lobbying President Obama to protect that region as a national monument under the Antiquities Act before he leaves office. In introducing the bill, Murkowski said drilling for oil in ANWR could help maintain the flow of oil through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which carries North Slope crude to an export terminal on the state's southern shore.

Weekly Voices
Pulling together, Alaskans can secure our future (Op-ed by Sen. Dan Sullivan) Alaska Dispatch News.To realize that bright future, however, we need to work together to push back against a harmful narrative that has gained ground across our state: that Alaska needs to "move beyond" responsible development of our abundant oil, gas and mineral resources toward some undefined economy of the future. This narrative was first promulgated by extreme anti-resource development groups, headquartered in cities thousands of miles from Alaska. Now, people serving at the highest levels of our own federal government have been pushing it. When he recently — and illegally in my view— removed almost all of Alaska's resource development opportunities in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, President Barack Obama stated we need to "move decisively away from fossil fuels." Without consulting Alaskans on this unprecedented lockup of our offshore resources, the president nevertheless lectured Alaskans that the way "to build a strong Arctic economy" was by moving "beyond" energy production, relying instead on things like charity — "philanthropy" in his words — to build our future. Responsible development of Alaska's abundant resources is also good for the global environment. Arctic natural resources are going to be developed, either in places like Alaska and Norway, with the world's highest standards for protecting the environment, or in places like Russia, whose officials care little about protecting the Arctic environment.
The U.S. needs an Arctic strategy (Letter to the Editor). The Salt Lake Tribune. A 2008 assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey found the Arctic holds approximately 22 percent of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbon resources. Shell, Exxon Mobil and other multinational energy companies are already competing for drilling rights. Russia is deploying military resources to protect its portion of the bounty. Roughly 30 percent of its navy is set to relocate to the Arctic. At least six permanent military bases are being built in the region. The largest military exercise ever conducted in the Arctic saw 150,000 Russian troops hold a mock battle to defend the Arctic against U.S. incursion. As of now, the United States does not have a coherent strategy to secure America's interest in the Arctic. The president and U.S. lawmakers must act now to change that.
Trudeau bans Arctic drilling, without consulting premiers, aboriginal groups. (Commentary) The Rebel. Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau have made a joint decision to ban drilling in the Arctic. For the US, it will be permanent, while in Canada, a five year review will be conducted, based on climate and marine science. Now the Premier of the North West Territories, Bob Macleod, and the Premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna, are giving the Prime Minister a dose of reality. They say that the ban on drilling in the Arctic will affect the northern way of life and that people need good paying jobs to sustain their lifestyle. And then there’s the problem that Trudeau didn’t consult the region or any indigenous groups, which was one of his big election promises. Chalk this one up to Trudeau following irrelevant outbound Obama’s lead at the expense of much needed prosperity that would provide essentials like housing, schools and hospitals in northern Canada. The new incoming President of the United States is pro-oil, so I don’t expect this policy to hold up for long.
America Needs to Get Serious about the Arctic. (Op-ed by Justin Lynch – infantry officer, U.S. Army )The National Interest. Several articles have described the Arctic as filled with opportunities to peacefully capitalize on resources exposed by melting ice caps. Despite the perception that the Arctic will remain the world’s most peaceful region, the United States needs to improve its ability to engage in Arctic and cold region conflicts. While it is in the United States’ best interest to maintain a peaceful, non-militarized presence in the Arctic, it needs to prepare for possible conflict with Russia. States have managed to peacefully resolve issues about the Arctic that would be hotly contested in other regions. There are reasons to suspect this will change as the stakes in the Arctic increase. Very little infrastructure and few population centers exist in the Arctic. As a result, states that do not accomplish their goals during negotiations typically lose or place at risk fewer investments and less of their population compared to areas like the South China Sea. As states invest more money and effort in expensive attempts to exploit mineral and oil wealth in one of the most hostile climates on the planet, their possible losses will increase, and they are likely to become more committed to accomplishing their goals. However the United States prepares for military operations in the Arctic, it is to everyone’s advantage if the region does not militarize. The polar regions are traditionally the most peaceful places on the planet and that tradition may allow numerous states to increase their wealth. Nevertheless, not preparing for Russian aggression, even as they forward deploy their forces and seize territory in other regions would be foolish.
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