Former Alaska Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan has a top priority if he is elected to the U.S. Senate: “Unleashing the economic opportunities of Alaska.”
Sullivan spoke at Thursday’s Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hangar on the Wharf and outlined some of his top talking points as he works toward a spot in Washington, D.C. He’s been on the campaign trail for the past four months after leaving his position as DNR commissioner in September 2013.
During his talk Sullivan said he’s experienced firsthand the unwillingness of President Barack Obama to allow Alaskans to extract valuable resources from their land. He said Alaska already has “the highest standards in the world for protecting the environment,” and the federal government is “shutting down our resource development.”
“A lot of these guys see Alaska as a place where the issues of the environmental community trump everything else,” he said after the luncheon.
Sullivan said he won’t run his campaign on meanness or attacks, but U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is not doing enough to defend the right of Alaskans to tap Alaskan resources.
“We need that kind of vigilance and I don’t think we’re getting it from our senator in Washington,” Sullivan said.
He said Begich votes with Obama “97 percent of the time.”
“I haven’t met an Alaskan that agrees with Obama 97 percent of the time,” Sullivan said. “Mark Begich might be the only one.”
Alaskans for Begich campaign manager Susanne Fleek-Green said Begich “has a record of delivering for Southeast Alaska since before Dan Sullivan moved from Maryland.”
“Working with Senator Murkowski & Congressman Young, Begich successfully fought federal agencies to expand work at Greens Creek and Kensington mines, used his clout to help deliver three new Fast Response Cutters for the Coast Guard in Southeast and helped secure our fair share of funds for the Alaska Marine Highway System,” Fleek-Green said in an email.
As DNR commissioner, Sullivan said, he saw Alaska’s mining and oil and gas extraction “slowed down or overregulated” by the federal government. Sullivan said he was one of the key players in developing SB21, which, if not repealed this year, will change the structure of the state’s oil tax. Sullivan urged the chamber audience to vote no on the referendum that would repeal the bill.
He also spoke on infrastructure development and said the permitting process to build a new road in the state takes too long, hindering the economy’s growth.
“The fact that we can’t build a road or a bridge or a mine because permitting takes 10 to 15 years ... it’s outrageous,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also said he would like to see Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, repealed, because “the federal government is very ill-suited to commandeer that much of the economy.” He said he’s tired of the president “rewriting” the nation’s Constitution.
“His job is to faithfully execute the laws, not rewrite them,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s remarks were favorably received by the audience.
Juneau chamber President Max Mertz joked about the Affordable Care Act after Sullivan’s talk.
“The good news is the federal government is trying to fix and tweak the ACA,” Mertz said. “The bad news is the federal government is trying to fix and tweak the ACA.”
Sullivan is running in the senatorial race against first-term incumbent Begich, and fellow GOP candidates Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller.
• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.