U.S. Follows Europe’s Lead to Make Arctic Energy Green

U.S. Follows Europe’s Lead to Make Arctic Energy Green
An employee surveys Reykjavik Energy's Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, Reykjavik, Iceland, July 28, 2011 (AP photo by Brennan Linsley).

Today, the phrase “Arctic energy” has become synonymous with snowy oil rigs, icy ocean exploration and Greenpeace activists. The conditional U.S. approval in May of Shell’s plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska has reinforced this narrow delineation of what’s included in polar energy debates.

Reflecting how observers and international policymakers view the Arctic more generally, northern energy is written as an extractive narrative. From the opening of shipping routes to warnings of climate change consequences, the Arctic is frequently framed and valued by how it can help those living below the 66th parallel.

But there is another story to Arctic energy.

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