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Alaska governor says state is awash in energy but can't capitalize on it

Dunleavy criticized the Biden administration for not defending a federal court ruling that stopped a project by ConocoPhillips Alaska.

Published: March 11, 2022 5:37pm

Updated: March 11, 2022 11:26pm

(The Center Square) -

President Joe Biden could lower prices at the pump for consumers if he would remove some of the barriers to oil and gas projects, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said.

"Alaska is awash in energy, but not able to capitalize on it," Dunleavy said in a news release.

The governor's comments come as oil prices rose to $134 a barrel days after Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports.

Gas prices are averaging $4.33 a gallon nationwide and are higher in Alaska, where a gallon of gas costs $4.72, according to AAA.

Dunleavy criticized the Biden administration for not defending a federal court ruling that stopped the Willow Master Development Plan, which is being led by ConocoPhillips Alaska. The company first discovered oil in the area in 2017 and the project was approved.

It was stopped by a court order last year. The Bureau of Land Management reopened the comment period for the project, which ended Wednesday but its fate has not been decided.

"It is nearly shovel ready, could be built by 2025-2026, and would supply some 160,000 barrels of oil per day," the governor said of the project.

Dunleavy also derided a decision by the Biden administration to request a U.S. District court to suspend right-of-way on the Ambler Road project, a "211-mile private industrial access road from the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District in the Northwest Arctic Borough," Dunleavy said. The area contains deposits of minerals and other elements that could have created jobs and revenue once the mines were started, he said.

Another project, the Alaska Gasline has permits and federal loan guarantees already and LNG prices would be "lower than that of other U.S. projects competing for the same Asian market," according to Dunleavy.

"Your administration can stop issuing anti-fossil fuel statements to encourage investment in domestic energy production," the governor said.

Dunleavy also asked the Biden administration to lift the pause on federal oil and gas lease sales, including ones in the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"The U.S. should not be begging for oil from dictatorships such as Iran and Venezuela," Dunleavy said. "We can produce it at home with the highest of standards for environmental protection, if you will simply let us.”

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