Ross Coen, a Ph.D. student in the History Department and author of, Breaking Ice for Arctic Oil, gave a presentation “Historical Perspectives on Environmental Stewardship and Resource Development in the Canadian Arctic” at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies’ Community College Master Teacher Institute in July.
Upon discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska’s North Slope in 1968, the proposed construction of pipelines, drilling pads, offshore terminals, tankers, and other infrastructure stood to threaten the environmental integrity of the Canadian Arctic and challenge Ottawa’s claims of sovereignty over the lands and waters of the region. At the same time, however, American development proposals afforded an opportunity for Canada to frame its own Arctic resource policies in the context of ecological stewardship. This presentation will provide a historical context for present-day debates about Arctic resource development by examining the political, diplomatic, and technological facets of the Alaska “oil rush” of the late 1960s.
Ross Coen is a Ph.D. student in the UW History Department where he is studying the 20th century American West, in particular the intersections of environment, technology, and politics in Alaska fisheries. His 2012 book, Breaking Ice for Arctic Oil, examines the political and technological history of the SSManhattan, an icebreaking tanker that transited the Northwest Passage in 1969 in order to test the viability of shipping Alaska North Slope crude oil via circumpolar marine routes. Ross formerly worked on climate change policy in the office of Senator Ted Stevens and on rural energy development for the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP), an applied research institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.