We must unleash our world leadership in conservation and 21st century technology to develop our resources safely. We can stop the economic hemorrhaging caused by our dependence on foreign energy. To help do that, we must safely produce Alaska’s energy while protecting its environment.”

Alaska‘s energy can help jumpstart our economy and provide resources to prevent future price spikes. Salazar, Congress, and the Obama administration should protect the United States and support American consumers by letting American workers produce America’s energy.”

Dave Harbour, Executive Director of Consumer Energy Alliance of Alaska, submitted the following Op-Ed to The Richmond Times-Dispatch on August 5, 2009. View by clicking here.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Oil topped $145 a barrel last summer, and gasoline settled in uncomfortably above $4.25 per gallon. Compared to those historic prices, today’s $70 oil and $2.70 gasoline might seem like a bargain.

But if we want to avoid a replay of the past, we must act now to confront the conditions that created those volatile prices, starting with Alaska. Accounting for three quarters of our nation’s coastlines, Alaska’s offshore resources exceed those in the Gulf of Mexico. With the giant Prudhoe Bay oilfield and infrastructure, Alaska also has an expert work force needed to produce its abundant resources. But for that to happen, the federal government must take action.

We need a decisive approach to America’s energy needs. We must unleash our world leadership in conservation and 21st century technology to develop our resources safely. We can stop the economic hemorrhaging caused by our dependence on foreign energy. To help do that, we must safely produce Alaska’s energy while protecting its environment.

Alaska produces more than 13 percent of America’s domestic crude oil. But we rely on the Middle East and other countries for 70 percent of the oil we use. The sad story is that we could easily improve our national security and reduce our vulnerability to foreign oil by turning to Alaska and other offshore areas. The associated royalty and tax revenues and the thousands of jobs offshore production may well create would provide America with an economic stimulus that strengthens – not weakens – future generations.

Much of Alaska’s abundant energy resources lie offshore, in areas that for years were made off-limits by the federal government. When energy prices shattered record highs last summer, both the Democratic-led Congress and the Bush administration allowed their decades-old bans on outer continental shelf (OCS) development to lapse. But the Interior Department must first include areas of Alaska’s offshore region in its five-year plan for development before any exploration can take place.

This problem came to a head earlier this year, when a federal court nullified the Interior Department’s current five-year plan, a strategy that included energy in Alaska’s North Aleutian Basin and Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Fortunately, all that’s needed to reinstate the five-year plan are a few technical changes. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could quickly make those changes, and unleash a safe search for Alaska’s energy.

Claims that we have to sacrifice the environment to produce energy are untrue. Energy production is cleaner, more efficient, and more effective than ever. Billions have been invested to develop technologies that have revolutionized energy production. Footprints have been reduced, limiting environmental impact. 3-D seismic and 4-D time-imaging technologies have made finding resources easier. Equipment like storm chokes and blowout prevention devices are now standard.

We must produce more domestic energy and not fear the false arguments of those who would prefer we produce no energy at all. Alaska’s energy can help jumpstart our economy and provide resources to prevent future price spikes. Salazar, Congress, and the Obama administration should protect the United States and support American consumers by letting American workers produce America’s energy.

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