Throughout President Obama’s tour of Alaska last week, he spoke at length about efforts to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. He spoke very little about his support for Arctic Ocean drilling.
The drilling policy could affect the global climate much more than any of Obama’s climate-friendly initiatives.
“One of the reasons I came up here is to really focus on what is probably the biggest challenge our planet faces,” President Obama said. “If there’s one thing that threatens opportunity and prosperity for everybody, wherever we live, it’s the threat of a changing climate.”
Alaska is exempt from that plan. The president did not mention one of his policies that does have direct relevance in Kotzebue and the rest of Alaska.
The U.S. Geological Survey says more than 20 billion barrels of oil can be recovered from beneath the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. If that oil is burned in engines and homes and businesses, it would pump many times more carbon dioxide into the sky than the president’s big clean power plan would keep out of the sky.
“Approximately 15-times greater,” Lois Epstein, an engineer with The Wilderness Society in Anchorage, said. Her group has been opposed to drilling in the Arctic Ocean for mostly non-climate reasons.
She says Obama’s approval of Arctic drilling is inconsistent with his big push to fight climate change.