Commentary: Alaska's coming identity crisis

Writing in the October edition of The Atlantic, Charles Homans outlines the economic challenges facing Alaska as North Slope oil production declines and options for selling the state's vast reserves of natural gas remain limited.

But it is the pipeline's uncertain future that poses Alaska's greatest existential dilemma. For a third of a century, the energy industry has underwritten not only Alaska's finances but also its rugged, individualist self-image. Oil revenues have allowed the state's residents to live the libertarian dream of Alaska's past -- Alaskans pay no state sales or income taxes -- while enjoying all the benefits of life in a prosperous welfare state. As an energy lawyer I met in Anchorage drily observed, Alaskans may talk like Texans, but they live like Norwegians.

A future of declining oil and gas revenues will occasion some difficult choices, and Alaska does not have many options. ...

Read more at The Atlantic: After the Oil Rush