U.S. Senate Candidate Column #1 – Kelly Tshibaka

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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 needs a senator who will unleash the fullness of our energy potential

In many ways, Alaska’s lands are sacred; they have been blessed with rich resource endowment, which have always been the key to our subsistence and economy. The problem is that environmental extremists, now given renewed power by President Joe Biden’s administration, have prevented us from realizing our true potential of rising prosperity, self-sufficiency, and economic independence, balanced with environmental conservation.

Alaskans deserve a U.S. senator who will fight for an Alaska-centric agenda that will unleash our enormous energy potential to create jobs and lower our fuel costs, not one who bows down to extremists and enables a radical D.C.-based agenda that wants to turn our state into a national park for the rest of the country. My energy platform will promote environmentally responsible growth and job creation in the energy industries which drive the Alaska economy.

Permitting processes for oil and gas leases on public lands are onerous and time consuming, taking years to complete. In the case of access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), federal regulatory restrictions were in place for 60 years before President Trump cleared the way for energy production. Biden then suspended oil and gas leases in ANWR on his first day in office.

When bureaucrats don’t support something, they love to drag out the process. “Go slow” means “no go.” It costs our companies a lot of time and money, which often makes projects cost prohibitive, preventing Alaska workers from earning money to support their families. When I’m your senator, I will call for permitting processes to be completed within a defined time frame.

As your senator, I also will advocate for Alaska and First Alaskans—not the federal government—to own a majority of the land in Alaska. Alaskans should have the right to access and develop resources on the federal land within our state. President Trump was in the process of transferring 28 million acres of land to Alaska before Biden took office and promptly stopped the plan. To make matters worse, Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has started the process of seizing 44 million more acres, trying to take more land from Alaskans and federalizing nearly 73% of the state.

We are owed land by the federal government, it’s as simple as that. Alaskans know best how to manage and responsibly develop our land and resources. No D.C. insider cares about the Alaskan environment more than the Alaskans who live and work here. We also develop resources in a more environmentally responsible way than the other countries from which the U.S. imports when the Biden administration prohibits Alaskan energy production. As your next senator, I will fight for timely completion of environmental and other regulatory reviews required for us to access and develop federal land. I also will demand the timely and orderly conveyance to Alaska of its public lands for potential development of natural resources.

Federal agencies do not abide by federal law for permitting, area plans and lease sales, and they have violated the No More Clause. BLM has kept millions of acres of land locked up through Public Land Orders for decades even though they were required to be dealt with shortly after ANILCA. Congress can hold these agencies accountable through budget cuts imposed by the Appropriations Committee, or through hearings conducted by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, for example.

We must reform the permitting process to make it timely, and if agencies fail to comply, they should face budgetary consequences. With incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s seniority, we should have seen these agencies held accountable by now, but we have not.

President Trump’s policies were demonstrably beneficial to Alaska, but Murkowski openly opposed him, both in his first election in 2016 and in his re-election campaign in 2020. This open antagonism of a president who was good for Alaska is not the kind of leadership our residents want. Nor does it help Alaska for Murkowski to openly support the Biden administration that is anti-mining, anti-oil and gas, and anti-Alaska.

Worse, Murkowski was the deciding vote in the Senate committee which advanced Haaland’s nomination for Interior Secretary. This means Murkowski is personally responsible for the imposition of the radical environmental agenda relentlessly targeting Alaska and opposing fossil fuel development in America.

A senator’s real value is in the big moments, the critical votes, and Haaland’s nomination was one of those crucial times. Murkowski’s approval of Haaland will cost Alaska billions of dollars. It may make her popular with the D.C. cocktail party crowd, but it seriously hurts us back here at home.

Murkowski also has failed to gain Alaska’s entry into an offshore revenue sharing agreement. Under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas share hundreds of millions in revenues annually, which also support environmental conservation programs. Alaska has never been included in such an arrangement, which would have provided much-needed incentive for offshore exploration and production in Alaska. An energy revenue sharing pact for Alaska, similar to the one enjoyed by Gulf of Mexico states, would have grown the state’s economy, created jobs, and protected the environment.
All Alaskans ever want is fairness and the opportunity to access what is rightfully ours. The Gulf compact has been in place for 15 years and Lisa Murkowski has been in the Senate that entire time. Why was Alaska never brought to the table?

Alaska was once a place that afforded people abundant opportunity, but those days seem distant because of federal government overreach and overregulation, something our current senator has failed to adequately address. I have a fire in my heart to rebuild Alaska, and I believe that embracing the blessings of our bountiful natural resources is the key to that future.

Kelly Tshibaka is a born-and-raised Alaskan, and a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alaska who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and the Alaska Republican Party.