Two months ago, President Joe Biden stood before the nation and declared in his inaugural address, “I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.” Hours later, his call for unity came to a screeching halt. With a stroke of a pen, the Biden administration sent a striking blow to thousands of Alaskan and American energy workers and numerous communities that rely on responsible resource development as a meaningful tool for investment in social and economic advancement.
These executive orders – including a sweeping moratorium on new oil and gas development on federal lands and waters, and a unilateral halt to leasing in ANWR’s 1002 – have left many Alaskans fuming and understandably questioning our collective futures as an energy producing state, particularly in the face of unprecedented revenue and budget shortfalls.
As the chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, I write today to outline my commitment to Alaskans in the face of these unprecedented attacks.
1. Alaskans must be at the forefront of federal decision-making, and the incoming Biden administration must understand that Alaskans and Americans alike demand an all-of-the-above energy approach, not a systematic destruction of critical sectors of our economy.
2. Alaskan and American energy workers, and the communities that support them, can’t be left behind. We must work to advance economic opportunities during these challenging times, not eliminate them.
3. We must fight to defend the promises made to Alaskans in our state constitution and Statehood Compact – which underpin our place as a resource development state and secures our right to develop our rich mineral resources, access our federal lands and manage our fish and wildlife.
4. We must collectively work to counter the harmful actions of Wall Street banks and financial institutions that have succumb to the political pressures of extremists and red-lined resource development projects in Alaska and the Arctic.
5. We must underscore Alaska’s role in U.S. energy security, including our vast untapped resources (both traditional and renewable) and longstanding place as a global leader in clean and environmentally responsible development.
6. We must build upon the community driven successes of the past to lower energy costs, including natural gas deployment, renewable energy technologies like hydropower, wind and geothermal, and work to modernize energy infrastructure, such as microgrids and renewable storage, into the 21st century.
7. We must understand that each and every Alaska community is different. Therefore, our commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy must address the diverse needs found in communities and regions across the state.
Those of us on the Alaska Senate Resources Committee have already begun the critical work to reaffirm the promises made to Alaska and fight back against an onslaught of federal overreach that has for too long ignored the will of local communities and stakeholders. We have begun examining our collective energy future, including steps to sustain investment and jobs on our North Slope, boost production, grow throughput in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and help build a more resilient economic base through resource and energy development. This also includes a commitment to developing areas beyond traditional resources and energy sources, such as increasing development of wind, hydroelectric, biomass systems and microgrid projects that have lowered costs and reduced the reliance on costly diesel power generation throughout Alaska.
Alaska has and continues to be a shining example of responsible resource and energy development – where conservation and development have been proven to live in harmony; where stewardship of our lands, resources and environment is not falsely defined as mutually exclusive. But now, as a cornerstone of our vulnerable economy comes under attack, we must prepare for a tough road ahead.
Like those before me, I am committed to working with our Alaska congressional delegation and bipartisan leaders to underscore the important role resource and energy development plays in Alaska’s collective DNA. The Biden administration has placed heavy burdens on our already struggling economy with their clear desire to freeze new resource development projects across our state, but we must stand united to help shape these discussions and demand a commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we stand up for our statehood right to develop our natural resources for the benefit of all Alaskans and Americans. I remain hopeful that, in the end, common sense will prevail.
Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, is the chairman of the Alaska Senate Resources Committee.
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