Oil production in Alaska has shrunk to its lowest level since the late 1970s, and gasoline prices are soaring, prompting Gov. Mike Dunleavy to urge the Biden administration to reverse its energy policies and permit Alaska to produce more oil.
Alaska produced about 448,000 barrels per day of oil in 2020, less than a quarter of the approximately 2 million barrels per day produced during the state’s oil peak in 1988, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“What we’re interested in is more production, not higher prices, per se,” Dunleavy told Paul Greaney, host of NTD Business, in a March 16 interview. “We produce, right now, about 500,000 barrels of oil a day. If we were to double that, which will be tough … we think we can get a couple to several hundred thousand more barrels, if allowed to.”
The governor emphasized that President Joe Biden’s energy policies have hurt U.S. energy-producing states and made the United States energy dependent, which is unnecessary because America has an abundance of oil and gas, he said.
“And so, it’s just not impacting Alaska, but it’s impacting oil-producing states across the country. … We’re not running out of oil or gas. We still have billions of barrels of oil up here in Alaska, we have tremendous amounts of gas,” continued Dunleavy.
But the Biden administration has not allowed enough drilling permits in Alaska for the increase in oil and gas production, added the governor.
“What we’ve seen coming out of Washington here in Alaska, especially since President Biden has become president, is a real reluctance and, in many cases, almost an antagonistic approach to oil and gas here in the state of Alaska.”
He said that past policies from the administration are stifling energy production in the United States, particularly in Alaska, because drilling leases on the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) were revoked.
“We opened up ANWR and we sold leases, but they’re slow boating the execution of those leases. The interesting thing about the ANWR lease sale is that was embedded in the law that was passed by Congress in 2018,” Dunleavy said.
In accordance with Biden’s climate agenda, the Department of the Interior suspended all activities related to the execution of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in ANWR in June 2021, until a comprehensive analysis of the National Environmental Policy Act is completed.
The governor wants Biden to restrict energy from adversarial countries that pollute, not the United States. “What we’ve said to them is, you know, don’t sanction us. Sanction some of the other countries that are bad actors. Allow us to produce oil and gas.”
“If we do so, we could help ensure our national security, lower the price of energy for Alaskans, and help our neighbors, especially our neighbors in the Far East,” Dunleavy said, adding that Washington has to make more U.S.-centered energy decisions. “We’re not running out of oil or gas. We’re running out of good policy out of Washington.”
Alaska has filed suit against the federal government for canceling those leases.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled the international energy market in recent weeks, and revived debate about whether the United States should be depending on other countries for oil and gas.
Dunleavy said this isn’t the first time a geopolitical conflict has impacted commodity prices and it won’t be the last. He said this should alert the administration to the dangers of relying on foreign countries for fossil fuels.
“Hopefully, this is a wake-up call. We produce as much energy as possible, and then we don’t have to worry about foreign actors and relying upon them,” Dunleavy said. “I hope the Biden ministration has gotten the message.”