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Let Alaska use its natural resources

Let Alaska use its natural resources
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The Interior Department has announced plans to facilitate mandated oil and gas leases for a small fraction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While Alaskans are optimistic about this historic development, our battle with outside interests over the last 40 years has taught us to be cautious. Experts warn us that it could be another decade before America benefits from the billions of barrels of oil located on our coastal plains.

Governors from other states and candidates for office have weighed in to flaunt their hypocrisy and ignorance. Environmental extremists have sent out email blasts with overblown claims, desperately seeking donations as their executive directors take home salaries of more than $400,000. The largest banks around the country have also sworn to shun Arctic National Wildlife Refuge projects while they quietly extend credit to some corrupt regimes and plead guilty over several heinous financial crimes.

Denying Alaska the ability to develop our natural resources certainly flies in the face of our rights. As a state whose admittance into the union was predicated on our ability to develop natural resources for the benefits of our people and our country, a future viability of Alaska has been thrown into question in only a few short decades after misled activism.

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Whether seeking political capital, donations from billionaires, or penance for misdeeds, the shameless profiteering from the economic suffering of Alaskans knows no bounds. Operatives tweet their condemnations using devices manufactured with metals from China as they fill their tanks with gas produced by old wells that flare and frack. Politicians from the states that have decimated their own salmon fisheries also make snide remarks as they eye higher office. The hypocrisy on this issue is palpable.

Meanwhile, those forced to suffer are often our most vulnerable. Outside groups love to tout opposition of Alaska natives while ignoring the many Alaska natives who support the jobs and prosperity which these projects deliver. The cries for climate justice ring hollow as the first people of our state are prevented from making a living through these projects.

The attacks on Alaska have escalated with concerted efforts to misinform the public regarding a project on land located 100 miles from Bristol Bay. This project would reduce mineral imports from dirty producers in China and elsewhere if it is found to be safe. But instead of allowing the crucial state review, outside interests have sought to terminate any analysis. The voices of those who advocate for a fair review process are shouted down by those who form their opinions from social media influencers.

I believe many would be surprised to realize that the natural resources industry in Alaska is the cleanest and best regulated inside the country. Perhaps they have never considered that diverting business from dirty foreign fields is better for the environment. The simple truth is that for every project of Alaska unceremoniously canceled by mob rule, those natural resources in question will continue to be sourced from foreign suppliers that generate harmful pollution and human suffering.

The people of Alaska are not naive. We know these days for fossil fuels are numbered. Home to the Tesla winter testing facility and more hydropower than the entire rest of the country combined, we hope to lead the coming energy revolution by sourcing many of the minerals we need right here in Alaska. But none of that can happen without a strong economy.

We are thankful to have a president who understands our true potential and that no one develops our natural resources better than our state. A thriving Alaska is the key to reducing our dependence on minerals from China and funding our renewable energy projects. But we must end the parasitic links of special interests with our economy to succeed.

Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) serves as the current governor of Alaska.