This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:
The stage is set to begin clearing the way to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
The first step must come first out of Washington, D.C., the nation’s political center. As it is, the political party in power is friendly to fossil fuel development. Both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans and President Donald Trump is by profession a business developer. He believes in building, and Arctic drilling would be building on several levels, including industry, the state, Alaska businesses and quality of Alaskans’ lives.
President Trump, since taking office five weeks ago, has signed executive orders to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Plus, he strongly encouraged that developers utilize U.S. steel, which effectively would enhance the domestic economy.
Trump has demonstrated his interest in fossil fuel development projects and Alaska is primed to participate.
Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski this week announced she is sponsoring legislation to open a portion of the 30,136-square-mile ANWR. About 2,300 square miles of the Beaufort Sea coastal plain could be opened to oil drilling if a majority in the House and Senate agree and President Trump signs off.
Most Alaskans agree that a small section of ANWR should be made available for drilling. Previous drilling in Alaska has proven friendly to the landscape and wildlife. Not only do animals adapt in such circumstances, but reports show herd sizes increased despite the addition of the trans-Alaska Pipeline to the landscape.
Alaska is infused with natural resources, particularly oil and gas, and the state and Alaskans depend upon developing those resources for jobs and Alaska’s economic well-being.
The state has a nearly $3 billion budget deficit created by the decline in oil prices in recent years. New development would not only improve Alaska’s revenue picture, but it would inject excitement in the private sector, resulting in new and growing business and jobs as far away from ANWR as Ketchikan.
While Alaska is a place of wonderful opportunity, to realize it takes action. The wheels are in motion with Murkowski’s legislation.