Arctic resources are vital for U.S economic and national security
Traditionally, national security is conceptualized as hard and soft power or military might and diplomatic influence. Economic strength, however, is the foundation of power. Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, proclaimed that debt poses the biggest threat to U.S. national security.1 Although his warning hardly raised an eyebrow, the economic engines that are China and Germany—and their corresponding global strength—are evidence of the interdependence of economic and national security.
For the United States, greater economic security can be supplied by the untapped resources of the Arctic, where this nation has been dealt an exceptional, yet underutilized, hand. The U.S. share of the Alaskan Arctic holds an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil and more than 220 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, as well as rare earth minerals and massive renewable wind, tidal, and geothermal sources of energy. Unprecedented climate changes have increased access to the region and transformed it into an emerging commercial sector. In total, the economic potential amounts to trillions of dollars. In this period of financial stagnation, developing these energy sources would be a tremendous boost to the United States.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic region is the largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on earth with an estimated ninety billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves, and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In addition, the unpredictability of the Persian Gulf region makes the Arctic region even more attractive for exploitation.