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Friday, March 27, 2015

Steve Horn: Industry-Stacked Energy Department Committee: Shale Running Dry, Let's Exploit the Arctic

by Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog, March 27, 2015

A report assembled by an industry-centric US Department of Energy committee recommends the nation start exploiting the Arctic due to oil and gas shale basins running dry. 
In the just-submitted report, first obtained by the Associated Press, the DOE's National Petroleum Council — many members of which are oil and gas industry executives — concludes that oil and gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) will not last beyond the next decade or so, thus the time is ripe to raid the fragile Arctic to feed our fossil fuel addiction. 

The NPC just launched a website and executive summary of the report: Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Oil and Gas Resources.
Confirming the thesis presented by the Post Carbon Institute in its two reports, “Drill Baby, Drill” and “Drilling Deeper,” the National Petroleum Council believes the shale boom does not have much more than a decade remaining.

The NPC report appears to largely gloss over the role of further fossil fuel dependence on climate change, or the potentially catastrophic consequences of an oil spill in the Arctic.

The first mention of climate change appears to refer to “concern about the future of the culture of the Arctic peoples and the environment in the face of changing climate and increased human activity,” but doesn't mention the role of fossil fuels in driving those changes. Instead, the report immediately pivots to focus on “increasing interest in the Arctic for tourist potential, and reductions in summer ice provide an increasing opportunity for marine traffic.”
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a National Petroleum Council member, chimed in on the study in an interview with the Associated Press.  
“There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world's economies today are going to go in decline,” remarked Tillerson. “This is will [sic] be what's needed next. If we start today, it'll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on.”
The National Petroleum Council also deployed the energy poverty argument, utilized most recently by coal giant Peabody Energy in its “Advanced Energy For Life” public relations campaign, to make its case for Arctic drilling as a replacement for fracking.
“But global demand for oil, which affects prices of gasoline, diesel and other fuels everywhere, is expected to rise steadily in the coming decades — even as alternative energy use blossoms — because hundreds of millions of people are rising from poverty in developing regions and buying more cars, shipping more goods, and flying in airplanes more often,” reads the report. “In order to meet that demand and keep prices from soaring, new sources of oil must be developed, the council argues.”
A prominent former member of President Barack Obama's National Security Council, Columbia University professor Jason Bordoff, also offered his cautious support for the report's contents to the AP. Bordoff, like Tillerson, serves as a member of the National Petroleum Council. 
“It's important to have good information to make these decisions,” said Bordoff. “We need to make sure we're doing this in the right way.”
The report's release comes just days after The Guardian reported that the Obama Administration intends to give Shell Oil permission to begin offshore drilling in the Arctic
Not everyone is excited with the report and its conclusion and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was the first to weigh in. 
“This puts an end to the myth that a relentless rush to fracking can overturn the laws of supply and demand,” Niel Lawrence, senior attorney and Alaska director for NRDCsaid in a press release
“The answer, though, is not to risk a BP-style blowout in Arctic waters, where we can’t prevent, contain or clean up a catastrophic oil spill. We need, instead, to break our dependence on the fossil fuel use that is putting our natural systems at risk and driving the dangerous climate change that threatens our future.”

Watch the NPC's video introduction announcing the report: 

There is also a Twitter feed @NPCArcticReport to follow for updates. Among the first 30 followers of that feed are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy; ExxonMobil Alaska; Shell's Arctic Campaign Manager, Paul Hagel and Statoil's Arctic communications staffer, Erik Haaland. 
Photo Credit: vitstudio via Shutterstock

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