FAIRBANKS (Sputnik) — An expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic will inevitably take place, and the indigenous peoples should adapt by accepting the imminent process, Alaska’s Congressman Don Young told Sputnik commenting on US President Donald Trump's recent executive order on offshore drilling which could open Alaska's northern reserves for extraction.
"It [offshore drilling] is going to happen. So, what you do is adapt, be part of it, make it right," Young said. "These people who say no to everything are usually backed by some outside group."Trump signed an executive order that directs the Department of Interior to conduct a review of the existing five-year program for oil and gas development for the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) under which oil and gas drilling is forbidden in both Chukchi and the Beaufort Seas off the northern shores of Alaska.
When asked about his stance on possible opening of offshore areas in the Arctic for drilling, Young said, "someone’s going to open it up, and I’d argue that we have to be prepared."
"If they open it up and we don't, shame on us," he stated. "It's just not for the oil, it's for the capability to handle the oil and which we ought to be very much aware of."
The issue of expanding offshore drilling has long been controversial in the United States due to numerous environmental concerns. In December 2016, Obama banned offshore oil and gas drilling north of Alaska and along the East Coast of the United States. One month later, Ryan Zinke, who on March 1, 2017 was confirmed as the US interior secretary, said the new administration should revise Obama's regulations on new gas or oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean.