University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Energy Transition Lab

Arctic Unconventional Energy Exploration and Energy Justice Project

Impact and Outcomes

Improved technology for hydraulic fracturing and deepwater drilling has dramatically increased U.S. domestic oil and gas production. Climate change–induced melting has made the Arctic increasingly accessible to offshore oil and gas operations. The Arctic is estimated to contain 13 percent of global undiscovered oil and 30 percent of global undiscovered natural gas, with approximately 80 percent of it offshore.

Bordering governments, standard setting entities, indigenous communities and corporations, along with policy makers and academic experts, are trying to address safety concerns and justice issues. The oil industry and its regulators continue to deal with the repercussions of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in regulating Arctic offshore drilling. The complexity of relevant law and institutions at many levels of government — paired with the harsh physical environment — creates major challenges for effective regulation.

The ETL will help develop improved approaches to regulation and standard setting for Arctic offshore energy development in collaboration with key corporate and indigenous stakeholders as the U.S. assumes leadership of the Arctic Council in 2015. As discussed under Local Projects, ETL will at the same time work to foster energy justice for rural indigenous Alaskan communities through improving renewable energy access.


Oil companies, Alaskan and other Arctic region indigenous communities, relevant government agencies, academic experts

The Energy Transition Lab is a strategic initiative of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment in partnership with the Office of the Vice President of Research and the Law School.
Funding support to the Energy Transition Lab is primarily provided by the Institute on the Environment and the Office of the Vice President for Research. Funders have no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of any manuscript.
Explore ETL
twitter social icon mail social icon