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In Alaska, All Politics is International, Not Just Local

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” 

In 2024, however, that no longer holds.  When it comes to climate and energy issues – and other issue sets as well – all politics isn’t just local; it’s national and international. 

>>>READ: The Growing Folly of ‘Big Oil’ Demonization

As I spoke at the 40th anniversary “Meet Alaska” event convened by the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, whose 500 members are connected to 35,000 jobs related to the oil, gas, and mining industries, the need to update the O’Neill rule was top of mind. 

The economy or the climate? Why not both?

Subscribe for ideas that support the environment and the people. 

Few states better illustrate the promise and peril of the global debate around climate and energy issues than Alaska. If the radical degrowth forces have their way, Alaska oil and gas production will sputter and new mines necessary to access critical minerals will be established elsewhere. But if those who favor economic freedom prevail, Alaska will make energy more abundant while providing many of the raw materials critical to next-generation technologies. 

Nick Loris, our VP of Public Policy, captured this tension well in a piece on the Willow project on Alaska’s North Slope. 

[O]ne environmental organization called the Willow project “a carbon bomb.” Bombs are destructive. Harnessing America’s natural resources creates value. Willow is an $8 billion investment that will create an estimated 2,500 jobs, drawing support from labor unions and building trade organizations. Once operational, U.S. oil supplies will increase by 180,000 barrels of oil per day, helping to lower prices at the pump for American families and businesses. ConocoPhillips, the developer, estimates that the project will generate up to $17 billion in revenue that will accrue to North Slope communities, the state of Alaska, and the federal government. 

While many environmental organizations expressed outrage over the environmental impacts of the Willow project, it is important to assess what the environmental impacts would be if the Biden administration shuttered domestic oil and gas production. Yes, the project is going to increase emissions, but if a bigger “carbon bomb” goes off from increased production in Venezuela, Russia, or Iraq – is that a win for the planet?

As I argued last week in The Dispatch, the good news is our politics has never been more open and malleable than it is today. America’s dissident majority – the 70 percent of the country that is unhappy with having their options limited to “binary choices” – can shape a better future. People of goodwill can “own” the climate issue and prove that sustainable energy production in states like Alaska is a win-win for people and the planet.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

Copyright © 2020 Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions

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