Alaska editorial: Palin helps draw focus to Alaska opportunities

Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008

When it comes to the marketing of our state's potential economically, the announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's vice presidential running mate could be the greatest opportunity since statehood or the discovery of Prudhoe Bay.

We should take advantage of it.

Personal feelings aside, there is little doubt the national spotlight has turned and may shine on Alaska for the next two months, and possibly beyond if one considers the possibility that one of our own may end up as vice president of the United States.

We have a lot to offer our country as well as the world, and a little attention could go a long way in helping us proffer our wares. We potentially have enough energy lying beneath our feet to run industries across the world for years to come. Our suspected gas and oil potential, onshore and off could prove to be enormous.

If we could get a natural gas pipeline going and fill the trans-Alaska oil pipeline back up, the world would certainly take notice. Maybe the sudden attention could help along those lines.

Many don't realize that geographically, Alaska is positioned nicely to facilitate the shipment of goods all across the world. In the near future, we may hold in addition to a commercial geographical advantage, a military one as the world's attention begins to contemplate the idea of open shipping channels across the Arctic for a 90-day period in the summer months.

For a state that has grown accustomed to not being in the national spotlight, this is our Olympics, and it is time for all of the ambassadors of Alaska to stand up and put a shine on our economic prowess. We have a lot to offer and should have a ready testimony that could directly or indirectly lead to investment in America's greatest and most northern locale.

Our focus for years has been the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Many who think drilling should not take place there have never been exposed enough to make a critical decision that could play so highly in our energy needs, a little personal exposure could go a long ways toward changing minds.

That is just the beginning. The unproven energy potential off our shores is staggering. Shell oil shelled out $2 billion last February just on the chance they might gain access to the fields on our northernmost shore that look so promising.

In addition to the offshore energy potential in the Beaufort Sea, we have the Chukchi Sea, which has incredibly enticing geology. If we turn our attention to the south, there is the outer continental shelf in the Bristol Bay region. And we haven't even begun to discuss mining, timber and fishing.

Alaskans and their cohorts have done a great job promoting wild Alaska salmon. National media attention could go a long way in introducing folks to one of our biggest industries and its nutritional benefits.

We invite Alaskans to join us in putting our economic foot forward and taking advantage of this national and international attention to promote all of the things both large and small that make our state so enticing from a personal and business standpoint.



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