ABC News' Kristina Bergess reports:
With uncertainty spreading across the Middle East the current Governor of Alaska, Sean Parnell, is on a mission to open his state to more oil exploration.
Parnell, not to be confused with his predecessor, the other famous Alaskan with the initials SP, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington and emphasized that America’s security is at stake if our nation’s oil supply continues to come from unstable areas and unfriendly regimes.
“More domestic oil production, not less, better secures our nation and grows our jobs at home.”
Oil production in Alaska has long been a matter of fierce political debate, particularly whether companies should be able to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and offshore oil drilling.
Alaska has been targeted in the moratorium since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In a press conference on May 27, 2010 President Obama said, “We will suspend the planned exploration of two locations off the coast of Alaska.”
Originally scheduled to expire in November, the moratorium was lifted in October because pressure from oil and fishery businesses. However, regulators at Interior Department have yet to issue permits due to the strict safety regulations imposed after the Horizon oil spill. There has been no exploration in US waters deeper than 500 feet since BP’s explosion in April.
“Let’s face it. We are dependent on an open free-fall Suez Canal, a canal through an unstable region the security of which has been purchased with our taxpayers’ dollars,” Parnell said, referring to the change of power in Egypt.
The Governor’s solution is opening up Alaska and other US lands for oil exploration, despite environmentalist opposition to offshore drilling and exploration in ANWR. With Alaska producing 11% of national oil production, Parnell said there is more to be found.
The Department of Interior sections off parts of Alaska larger than California and EPA delays leasing and permitting, thus the Governor fears that the opposition to resource development will impede US economic recovery. Parnell pointed out that federal inaction by the EPA causes the loss of 54,700 jobs, $104 billion in payroll, and is a moratorium against Alaska’s oil industry.
“If the Department of Interior and EPA continue these policies of not permitting exploration or development in the Arctic, what’s the result? The other Arctic nations are moving ahead without us. Only the United States, which is sitting on the largest untapped technically recoverable resources and has the greatest environmental oversight, is sitting this one out.”
Criticizing the Department of Interior and EPA for driving more dependence on foreign oil, Parnell asks that federal agencies “let Alaska help put America back to work.”
“Slash our dependence on foreign oil. If we are willing to do that, we will no longer be dependent on gyrations of international dictates and problems. No longer subjected to being a spectator of what happens to us."