This week Headlamp has invited candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. House to submit guest columns on their view of energy and resource development in Alaska. We will print one column each day this week. The views and opinions expressed by the candidates are not necessarily representative of those of AKHeadlamp.
Alaska: America’s Resource Future
By Nick Begich
One of my first memories as a child was when my father pulled me out of school at Harvester
Christian for a day to work on a placer gold claim. We pulled up to a camp that was operating on
the banks of Falls Creek near Moose Pass. When the guy running the camp put nuggets on the
table in front of me, I was hooked. As much as a five-year-old could, I understood the
excitement of discovering the earth’s riches. It’s the excitement that in later life would lead me to
stake a claim in Valdez and to hold mineral patents in Wrangell-St. Elias. But more importantly, it
is what brought so many to our state to explore, to expand, and ultimately to create the Alaska
that we know and love today.
We are tremendously rich in resources—our oil and gas, our minerals and metals, our timber,
our fish, our potential for alternatives. While these are resources that our country desperately
needs for our economy and our national security—as well as the security of our allies—the story
of Alaska is one of a constant battle to develop them. And that story is far from over.
Alaska’s next U.S. Representative must be a full-throated advocate of our resources. I will be
that advocate. While I support Gov. Dunleavy’s efforts to develop more renewables for our
fellow Alaskans, and while I also recognize industry’s efforts to improve upon their already world
class environmental practices in Alaska, I firmly believe that we must not capitulate to a far left,
radical agenda that uses fearmongering to justify killing our oil and gas industry. Such an
agenda will only wreak havoc on our communities—as is currently happening in Europe. It will
weaken our national security—placing global energy security into the hands of dictators and
Middle East mullahs. It will erode the way of life for millions of Americans and will decimate our
By the mere fact of her allegiance to a party whose main goal is exactly that—to kill our oil and
gas industry—Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola is already capitulating to that agenda. Simply put: it
matters who you caucus with. A vote for her is a vote to empower Democrats and keep them in
the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
My other opponent, former Gov. Sarah Palin, declared war on Alaska’s energy industry when
she was governor. She introduced one of the largest tax increases on the industry in our state’s
history, which Mary Peltola, then a state Representative, voted for. By the time production
declined as a result—she had quit being Alaska’s governor and didn’t seem to care. Equally
concerning, energy issues are complicated and politically fraught. Her slogan, “Drill Baby Drill,”
galvanizes the far left. They use it to signal to the public that people who advocate for energy
are unconsidered, ill-informed, and simply seek to wantonly drill holes in the ground, the
environmental consequences be damned.
Energy is a complex issue. The American people are smart, and I believe hungry for more
leaders who can talk about this issue in a way that they both respect and understand. We need
more articulate leaders, like Senator Dan Sullivan, who can tell them Alaska’s resources hold
the answers to so many of America’s challenges, from prices at the pump to the materials that
we will need as we transition to more alternatives. We need to tell them that no other place
develops resources in a more environmentally responsible manner than Alaska and that it is
downright insane to shut our industry down and empower other global regimes with little to no
environmental or labor standards.
The country is ready to hear our story. Here at home America is facing an energy crisis. Abroad,
Russian energy has become an economic weapon as natural gas exports to Europe are
withheld. As a result, European countries are facing a catastrophe, even before winter has set
in. Our Indo-Pacific allies are likewise desperate find new sources of traditional energy and are
looking to us for help.
Meanwhile, the Biden Administration continues to shut down domestic production, while
begging countries like Saudi Arabia to produce more oil, which they have refused to do. His
Administration has shut down pipelines, has leased far fewer acres for oil and gas development
than any other post-World War II administration during this point in its term, and has encouraged
ESG activism which is denying capital to the industry.
This is crazy. We have the oil, and we have the natural gas to benefit both our own country and
our allies. We also have many of the critical minerals and rare earth elements our country needs
for our national security, our quality of life, and for alternative energy. Consider this fact: Of the
35 minerals listed in 2018 as essential for U.S. economic and national security, China is the top
producer or top supplier for 23 of them. This is a critical issue for our country and one on which
our Senators, especially Dan Sullivan, have been relentlessly sounding the alarm. They need
help. The delegation, our state, needs a Representative in the House who understands these
issues, can dive into the weeds and then, without reservation, explain them to the public and to
colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
For us to realize our potential, the potential that has been the dream of so many Alaskans for so
many decades, we need someone in the House who is fearless in their advocacy of Alaska and
our way of life. We need someone who shares a vision of growth and opportunity for all of our
people—a state where my son and all of Alaska’s children can thrive. My mission is to work
tirelessly to realize our great potential. We have the resources we need. We need the right
people in Congress to help get them out of the ground, to benefit our state and our nation