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Friday, December 30, 2016

President Obama’s Environmental Legacy/Renewable

2016 is waning.  All of us have a couple of days to retrospect our past 12 months accomplishments and, more importantly, plan for a great effort in 2017.  President Obama, and leaders around the world, must do the same.

The president, in combination with the Canadian government, set a high standard this month in taking historic action to protect the Arctic.  As reported on our main site, the US and Canada took "steps to build a strong Arctic economy".  What was not stated, but is unquestionable, is the underlining asset of that economy--the eco-capital of the Arctic waters and ecosystem.

Over the past century, in state after state, country after country, investments in land preservation and quality of life have given doubled returns.  These assets, once burned or destroyed, are permanently gone.  Preservation, in this case, is fully putting and keeping the asset in our economy and working.

It seems that the last environmental act that the President will add to his legacy will focus on the health of our oceans. Some may have questioned President Obama’s strength when it comes to the interests of the environment, but now they’re more concerned on whether there will be any interest in protecting the environment at all with the incoming administration.

On December 20, the United Sates, in partnership with Canada, took
historic steps to build a strong Arctic economy, preserve a healthy Arctic ecosystem and protect our fragile Arctic waters, including designating the bulk of our Arctic water and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing.

These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth.  They reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and the ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.  By contrast, it would take decades to fully develop the production infrastructure necessary for any large-scale oil and gas leasing production in the region – at a time when the majority of us feel the need to continue to move decisively away from fossil fuels.

In 2015, just 0.1 percent of U.S. federal offshore crude production came from the Arctic and Department of Interior analysis shows that, at current oil prices, significant production in the Arctic will not occur.  That’s why looking forward, there is a need to focus on economic empowerment for Arctic communities beyond this one sector. Obama’s Administration has proposed and directed unprecedented federal investments in the region, but more must be done – by the federal government, the private sector and philanthropy – to enhance infrastructure and our collective security, such as the acquisition of additional ice breaking capacity, and to lay the groundwork for economic growth in the industries of the future.

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