GUEST COMMENTARY: Alaskans must stand against reversing four years of progress

  • President-elect Joe Biden puts his face mask on as he leaves after announcing key nominees for his economic and jobs team at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

On Jan. 20, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States of America. For Alaska’s energy community, the next four years are certain to look quite different from the previous four.

Before we look forward, let’s remind ourselves of how important the last four years have been. Under conservative leadership, ANWR was opened. That, in and of itself, was a monumental achievement made in concert between the administration and our congressional delegation.

But that was just the beginning of successes in the energy arena. NPR-A lease sales were held, Tongass timber harvesting was initiated, wind and solar projects began, and mining opportunities were advanced. Sen. Dan Sullivan’s “Save Our Seas” initiatives will help keep Alaska’s pristine waters clean. A polar class icebreaker will patrol the Bering and Chukchi seas, providing for security and opportunity alike.

Alaska’s been blessed to have pro-responsible development energy policy under Republican leadership these past four years. American energy dominance, increased energy jobs, and lower energy costs for consumers were all major achievements.

Which brings us to the next four years. If President-elect Biden is to be believed, things sure will change that on Jan. 20.

According to his campaign website, Biden plans to “permanently protect” ANWR from development, via a day-one Executive Order. He also promises the same action to ban permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters, as well as to require permitting decisions to account for climate impacts.

From there, his hand-picked team of eco-warriors, ahem, Secretary-designees for the Departments of Energy, Interior, and Transportation, along with the Director-designee of the EPA, will work to roll back the regulatory progress made over the last four years. Add the administration’s dual “climate czars,” former Secretary of State John Kerry and former EPA Director Gina McCarthy, who will work outside of congressional authority to implement some of the most radical aspects of Biden’s agenda, and you have an eco-left “dream team.”

To that end, Power The Future sent a letter to the Biden/Harris transition team and inquired about any recent Alaska visits by Secretary-designees Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., (Interior), former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., (Energy), or EPA Director-designee Michael Regan.

The vast majority, 62 percent, of Alaskan lands are federally managed. If none of the nominees have ever set foot in our state or seen first-hand the projects and opportunities they will be impacting on a daily basis, they won’t be able to represent the best interests of Alaskans. Their actions will have an impact on real people, existing and future jobs, and rural and urban communities across our state.

Some Alaskans are excited about this transition. The environmental warriors who espouse a “wildlife-above-human-life” philosophy are most likely thrilled with Biden’s choices to lead Interior, Energy, Transportation, and the EPA.

After all, each has backed radical elements — if not the entire plan — of the Green New Deal. That overreaching set of initiatives would cost Alaskan households over $84,000 in the first year of its implementation! That would be a direct threat to Alaska’s energy economy.

So as Jan. 20 approaches, let’s celebrate our state’s advancements under the outgoing administration, and stand together as Alaskans to stand up to new policies that will hurt our state.

The thousands of Alaskans who balance environmental stewardship with responsible development each and every day deserve that support. They haven’t stopped working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to bring reliable, affordable energy to market. Let’s ensure they aren’t forced to do so under the crushing reforms of the Biden/Harris administration.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a nationwide non-profit focused on supporting energy workers, while pushing back on radical green groups and the ideologues who fund them. Contact him at [email protected].

01/13/2021 - 11:40am