Will Russia, China Beat U.S. In The Arctic?

JAMES M. LOY

Hartford Courant

President Barack Obama should be applauded for gathering world leaders in Anchorage, Alaska, this week for a U.S.-led conference on “Global Leadership in the Arctic.” Yet the summit’s limited focus on climate change, though undoubtedly important, belies the significance of the broader U.S. interests and responsibilities in the Arctic.

As ice turns to navigable ocean, the Arctic is becoming the U.S.’s third great ocean border, creating vexing strategic challenges and unprecedented opportunities. These include not only climate change, but threats to national sovereignty and security, revolutions in international commerce and a Klondike-like rush to control vast undersea resources.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas lie in the Arctic. The United States has the potential to be the leader in responsible Arctic oil exploration, as our major oil companies maintain the technology and know-how to responsibly tap deep-sea Arctic oil, and could set a new global standard for responsible development and emergency response.

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