Alaska needs leader willing to fight for state

Mead Treadwell

Three big challenges facing our state compelled me to run for office this year.

First, we need to fill the Alaska oil pipeline. It's running one-third full, and throughput is falling fast. In Juneau, we have to change Alaska's investment climate. Our tax, leasing, royalty, permitting and education system here in Alaska must be globally competitive. Today, we are not. With the right approach, we can attract tens of billions of dollars in new investment in oil infrastructure -- and long-term jobs.

The Arctic is rich, but our problem with the federal government is access to new fields -- or getting permission to produce oil already found. Eight decisions made this year by the White House and federal agencies are choking off new supplies. These decisions could hasten a shutdown of the Alaska pipeline. That pipeline provides 13 percent of America's oil production. We have to spread that word, loud and clear, and show Americans it is in their interest to get Uncle Sam out of our way.

Second, we need to get a deal on a natural gas pipeline. Four gas pipeline projects are in the works, spending public and private money. All of them lack one crucial thing: a deal between a buyer and seller. While the "open seasons" are progress, potential Asian markets for an all-Alaska pipeline are not in the mix. Asia pays much more for gas than North America right now. And we Alaskans must define what kind of customers we ourselves will be for both in-state energy needs and value-added processing. Let's bring customers to the table, forge a deal and start building.

Third, we need to work -- seriously -- to diversify our economy. We can focus the buying power of the state to help local businesses and help them raise capital to grow and serve Alaska.

Our state needs to make key investments in roads, ports and other infrastructure to support Alaska exports. Strong universities contribute to Alaska's competitive position too.

Alaska grows when our exports grow -- fish, minerals, timber and energy. We have new and abundant renewable energy opportunities to develop for export and help reduce energy costs at home. Services that support tourism, global aviation, shipbuilding and shipping offer great opportunities for expansion, and Alaska's high technology potential is also strong.

Alaska history and my personal experience tell me Alaska can meet these challenges.

In my 33 years as an Alaskan, I've worked closely with leaders like Wally Hickel, Ted Stevens, Jay Hammond and Bill Egan who refused to take "no" for an answer. They fought for statehood, built our oil pipeline, established the Permanent Fund and forged the Alaska we enjoy today. They all fought to bring resources and decision-making home from Washington.

Now it's our turn to take up the challenge. We need leaders in every elected office who will stand up to Washington and make sure the federal government deals with Alaska's issues on Alaska's terms.

My background in business and government will help. I represented Alaska and the U.S. around the world as chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. I've fought for saner environmental laws and the knowledge needed for safe access to our resources. In business, working from Alaska, I've helped start companies that have put cutting-edge technologies to work in offerings by Google, MapQuest, Adobe, the popular mobile application Shazam and our U.S. military.

An able lieutenant governor can help the governor we elect accomplish what I call the Alaska Agenda. In contrast to the showmanship we've seen from some of the candidates this year, I'm running to do a serious job. I respectfully ask for your vote.

Mead Treadwell has chaired the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and is a senior fellow at the Institute of the North.