GUEST COMMENTARY: American energy dominance shields consumers from MidEast turmoil

Turn on the TV. Read the Daily News or other papers. Check out online media. All are inundated with story after story on the current turmoil in the Middle East. Iran. Iraq. Trump. Soleimani.

It is hard to find anyone who doesn’t have an opinion on what is happening in the Middle East. However, in Alaska, the silence has been deafening from the radical environmental movement.

Why are they so quiet when it comes to an energy situation that is so vital to America’s — and Alaska’s — way of life? Maybe it is good to look back at some history and see if we can uncover the reason for their muteness.

Over the last 50 years, instability in the Middle East was met with a spike in oil prices that hit every family in America. Our country witnessed long lines for gasoline and higher prices at the pump nearly every time there was a hiccup thousands of miles away.

In the most extreme example, when OPEC decided on an oil embargo in 1973 prices jumped 350 percent causing layoffs and a severe economic downturn. The paradigm caused both Republican and Democrat presidents alike to bemoan the situation and promise to work toward American energy independence.

Today, we’ve finally achieved that promise, partially because of the efforts of Alaska’s energy workers.

Not long after the killing of terrorist Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one Iranian military leader threatened an attack near the Strait of Hormuz — where almost 20 percent of the world’s oil travels. Senior Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Gholamali Abuhamzeh said that “the Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there.”

What is the early impact to the price of a barrel of oil? As of Jan. 7, it’s actually around the same price in the days following the threat as it was in the days before Solemani was killed.

Alaska’s energy workers have historically played a key role in developing the oil and natural gas that continue strengthening the position of the United States against vulnerabilities that have crippled our economy in the past. For the first time in generations, American energy independence is protecting our economy from instability.

Which brings us back to the silence from Alaska’s eco left. The ones protesting lease sales in the NPR-A and ANWR. The ones asking for public outcry when an oil producer begins exploration on its leased lands. The ones leading the climate strikes: taking Alaskan youth who already have some of the lowest academic performance in the nation out of school to protest an industry that provides approximately $2.4 billion a year in government funding and pays the majority of the cost of state government.

Alaska’s energy workers help protect our economy and our national security; they deserve all the gratitude we can offer.

As those same green groups think about driving to their next protest in gas-powered cars or sit comfortably in their offices warmed by natural gas, I hope they — and all of us — recognize their hypocrisy.

Not only do they personally benefit from the energy sources they are trying to destroy, they are also working directly against the United States — and for foreign entities who seek to undermine our country’s economic stability in an uncertain world.


Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future. Contact him at [email protected].

01/15/2020 - 10:58am