Though we were promised a brand new day regarding America’s reputation in the world, the reality has been the opposite. Americans doubt the resolve of our President, as seen by the election results last month. Our nation’s image has suffered, and it is time we reverse this trend.
This will not only secure our international standing, it will also secure our nation’s safety. Considering the drumbeat of violence around the world at any given moment – from violence across the Middle East to the devastation caused by Ebola in West Africa – conflict and instability seem to be a repetitive refrain in our news cycle. And each beat chips away at the reputation of our President and our nation.
The only way to ensure our stature at home and abroad is to establish our global leadership and interests. The first step is to establish leadership at home – and as the economy was a deciding factor for voters in this past election, improving it is vital. Considering that energy is a critical component of our economy, and thus of our budgets and national security, addressing our energy issues must be a top priority.
When we still import at least 40 percent of the petroleum we consume, and those imports come from unstable regions, it is clear that it is time to remove the roadblocks to domestic energy production. Congress and the Obama Administration must strengthen and expand energy infrastructure nationwide, and they must address the permitting and regulatory issues that have stalled additional domestic energy exploration.
Relying upon unstable nations for a critical resource is the height of risky behavior – especially when it is estimated that U.S. Arctic waters contain enough oil and natural gas to power America’s households for years, create numerous jobs nationwide, and generate billions in additional revenue. Indeed, Arctic offshore development could generate $193 billion in new revenue and 55,000 jobs nationwide.
Developing this opportunity would create jobs and billions in new revenue, plus it would lessen our dependence upon nations such as Russia, Venezuela, and those in the Middle East. Reducing these nations’ effect over global energy markets correspondingly reduces their international power and influence, forcing them to engage and cooperate with the rest of the world. In return, it helps to increase our safety, as well as our reputation.
Alaska was key to a similar strategy in the 1980’s that helped bring about the Soviet Union’s demise. During that period, Alaska provided higher domestic oil production, pushing down oil prices, which oil-dependent nations require to maintain their strangleholds. With the 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that are estimated to exist offshore, and the additional 16 billion barrels of oil and 98 trillion cubic feet of natural gas estimated to exist onshore, Alaska can once again play a central role in increasing our national security.
Alaska is the nation’s only Arctic state, amidst new aggression from Russia and continued turmoil in the Middle East, enabling it to assume a unique role in America’s national security posture. And now this role is even more important as the U.S. begins its leadership of the Arctic Council, the leading international organization for cooperation in the region established by the eight Arctic nations in 1996.
It is time to harness this opportunity to create a safer America, and a safer world. Limiting the impact of these evil nations on our lives and budgets is the first step. Creating a far-reaching strategy to ramp up domestic energy production in a responsible and sustainable manner will not only reduce their power, but it will also create long-term energy independence, stability, and security for us. The simple truth is, national security begins at home, and our President must seize this opportunity now.