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.
“We Are Just Getting Started: Alaska’s Best Resource Development Days Are Ahead”
Alaska has unmatched resource potential, and with the right leadership, we can be a global production leader long into the future. While we face serious challenges over access and permits, we can overcome them if we work together to ensure that others understand how our resources benefit the nation and the world.
The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) has now transported more than 18.4 billion barrels of oil to tidewater in Valdez. Mines like Red Dog, Kensington, and Greens Creek produce vast quantities of gold, silver, lead, and zinc. The companies that operate in Alaska have a tremendous record of safe and responsible development that we can all be proud of. But that’s only the start of what is possible for our state.
When it comes to oil, TAPS is just one-third full. But after years of hard work, we are finally turning a corner, as new production promises to help refill it throughout the 2020s and beyond.
We have already worked together to clear federal obstacles and ensure that CD5, GMT-1, and GMT-2 could come online, adding tens of thousands of barrels of production from the North Slope each day.
Next up is the Pikka project, for which Santos and Repsol recently announced an initial $2.6 billion investment that will produce an estimated 80,000 barrels per day by 2026.
I’m also working tirelessly to help secure federal re-approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, which will produce up to 180,000 barrels per day at its peak.
In combination with Hilcorp’s steadfast efforts in and around Prudhoe Bay, we are quietly on track to add hundreds of thousands of barrels to TAPS each day. That would be great for Alaska, especially when it comes to good careers for our residents. It would also be great for the world, which desperately needs alternatives to Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other dangerous regimes.
It is important to recognize that our oil production is not in conflict with efforts to address climate change. The International Energy Agency projects that, even in a “net-zero” emissions scenario, the world will use 72 million barrels of oil a day in 2030 and 24 million barrels of oil a day in 2050.
The actual totals are likely to be significantly higher. But regardless, as much of that oil as possible should come from Alaska, because we produce with low emissions intensity and a vanishingly small environmental footprint.
My confidence in Alaska’s industry is why I wrote and successfully enacted legislation to open a small portion of the non-wilderness 1002 Area to responsible production. That ended a 40-year legislative fight over ANWR and could add hundreds of thousands more barrels to TAPS each day in the medium-term.
I’m also more optimistic than ever about our ability to commercialize Alaska’s natural gas. As global demand for this clean-burning fuel grows, Russia’s horrific war on Ukraine has created an unprecedented opening for us. Producing more than three billion cubic feet a day would allow Alaska to export to Asia, freeing up crucial volumes for Europe and other nations.
As Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I ensured the Department of Energy and FERC approved the gasline project. I also added language to our bipartisan infrastructure law to allow the project to qualify for a federal loan guarantee of up to $26 billion. As interest rates rise, that will become more and more valuable.
Mining is another growth industry for our state because mineral demand is skyrocketing. Some firms are forecasting shortages of key minerals like copper, while Benchmark recently forecast that a stunning 336 new mines are needed by 2035.
Fortunately for us, Alaska is a storehouse for base metals and nearly every strategic mineral. While not every part of our state is suited for mining, many good projects are already underway. Graphite One near Nome and the prospects in the Ambler District are two examples. With my American Mineral Security Act now law, and billions of dollars ticketed for domestic mineral projects through legislation I have championed, mining stands to grow and strengthen Alaska’s economy in the years ahead.
I’ve also sought to ensure that Alaskans can pioneer new fuels and technologies. My Energy Act is the only comprehensive update to federal energy laws in the past 15 years, authorizing nearly $35 billion for energy storage, advanced nuclear, carbon capture, renewable energy, grid modernization, and other promising technologies.
Our bipartisan infrastructure law, which has directed nearly $2.5 billion to Alaska in less than a year, will also bring new opportunities. It will help Alaskans develop local, lower-cost resources like hydropower and geothermal, while creating openings to become a carbon or hydrogen hub—areas where we can go from “proving ground” to long-term global leader.
Alaska has always been blessed with abundant resources. Our opportunities are perfectly aligned with national and global needs. Our future can include another 45 years of successful operation of TAPS, a gasline, new mines, and technology deployment that delivers cheaper and cleaner energy for every community. That future will create tens of thousands of good jobs for Alaskans and be carried out under environmental, safety, and labor standards that are second to none.
Yet, none of that will happen on its own.
To realize our potential, we need more than resources in the ground. We need good companies, like the ones we have now, who employ Alaskans with technical expertise and a deep dedication to our state. And when it comes to politics, we need leaders who will educate and persuade members of both parties to do right by our state—members who can deliver results no matter who holds power in Washington, DC.
I’m proud of my partnership with Alaska’s resource industry and the victories we have achieved together. Through my seniority and bipartisan relationships, I’m better positioned than ever to help continue those successes and ensure that our best resource-producing days are still ahead.