President Obama’s newly announced plans to designate one of the largest oil fields in U.S. as “wilderness,” is foolhardy at best—and may be anti-American at worst. When you look at the bigger story, you have to wonder whose side he stands on in the new “cold war.”
In a YouTube video, Obama called on Congress to set aside all of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness—which would prohibit motorized access, road construction, and halt “any chance of oil exploration.” The January 25 announcement, according to the Washington Post (WP): “is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make.” It reports: “The Department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling … and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.”
The WP headline about the Obama Administration’s proposal states: “Alaska Republicans declare war.” [mc_name name=’Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M001153′ ] (R-AK), who chairs both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, has vowed to “Fight back with every resource at our disposal” and to “hit back as hard as we can.”
Other than ratcheting-up the rhetoric, not much will actually change with the new announcement, as ANWR is currently off limits to drilling—though the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act set aside the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain for possible future oil-and-gas development, and Alaska’s lawmakers from both parties have been trying to open it up to oil exploration for decades. Congress would have to approve Obama’s “wilderness” request and that has no chance of happening.
But it does bring the story to the forefront and, as Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum points out: ANWR is now “something that everyone has to take a stand on.” We now know (as if there were any question) where President Obama stands, he aligns with the environmental activists who delight in the “pro-protection stance.” “The administration’s proposal,” according to Politico, “reflects Obama’s shift to the left on environmental issues.”
But not only Alaskans and Republicans prepare for a battle over Arctic oil-and-gas resources.
The Russians are militarizing the Arctic and building bases near Alaska and reopening others that they closed at the conclusion of the cold war. The former-Soviet government introduced new nuclear attack submarines—the first of which joined the Northern Fleet in June—and has 25 icebreakers (compared to our 2) that are necessary to navigate Arctic waters.
The actions form part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to establish a strategic command in Russia’s “Arctic Zone.” The Moscow Times (MT) reports: “Putin sees control of the Arctic as a matter of serious strategic concern for Moscow. Below the Arctic lies vast stockpiles of largely untapped natural resource reserves.” The MT continues: “Russia is vying for control of the region’s oil, gas and rare metals with the other ‘polar nations’ — Canada, Denmark, Norway and the U.S.—leading many observers to point at the region as one of the world’s most volatile flashpoints.”
As ice has melted and drilling technology has advanced, Arctic reserves become more accessible. Companies from the five countries that border the Arctic rushed to secure rights to drill.
The countries also make their own claims. The Fiscal Times explains: “Putin’s military expansion was in direct response to a claim of additional land by” Canada. Russia, Denmark, and Canada have overlapping territorial claims and, despite international law that declares no country has sovereignty over the North Pole, each is claiming ownership of it—making the Arctic the potential new “cold war.”
In response to Russia’s Soviet-style military build-up, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has ‘determined that, for Russia’s neighbours, there shall be no peace,’ and said ‘because Russia is also Canada’s neighbour, we must not be complacent here at home.’”
While other countries race for the resources, the U.S., under Obama, backs away from ours—let alone any access to any additional claims. Last year, then [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001265′ ] (D-AK) said: “The Obama Administration should make the Arctic more of a priority.” In an interview with Fox News, he quipped: “It’s like they’ve never heard of it.” Addressing Russia’s push to “protect oil-and-gas fields,” The Fiscal Times claims: “The Pentagon has fallen behind.”
Regarding Obama’s January 25 ANWR announcement, Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operation for the American Petroleum Institute, said: “It sends the wrong signal to Alaskans, the industry and the world. … These are strategic assets and the U.S. should be leading the way in the development of these resources.”
Now, you should be asking yourself: “What is Obama thinking? Why has he pulled America back and taken off the table an opportunity to protect us from a global oil market that remains beyond our control?” The answer: because as the MT states: “Arctic oil exploration is vehemently contested by environmentalists.”
Next, you should ask: “How have environmental activists been able to take control of American energy policy?” The answer: as the New York Times reports is apparently the case in Europe, “Lots of money from Russia.”
In a Washington Free Beacon story that reads like a spy thriller, Lachlan Markay reveals how Russian money in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars is laundered through Bermuda and doled out to anti-fossil fuel, anti-fracking groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Podesta’s Center for American Progress—which serves as an incubator for ideas that become Obama Administration policy. Markay cites a report from the DC-based Environmental Policy Alliance that details, with documentation, how it is all done.
The anti-American accusation may be a bit of hyperbole—but, then again, maybe not. When you connect the dots, it seems clear that President Obama is doing Russia’s bidding—through his environmental allies—at the expense of America’s economic and energy security. We find ourselves in a new cold war (pun intended) over Arctic resources, and our president appears to be on the side of the enemy.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.