Dan Sullivan

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, front, addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature Monday, May 3, 2021, in Juneau in this image taken from a live broadcast of his speech. Behind Sullivan is Sen. President Peter Micciche and House Speaker Louise Stutes. 

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, in his annual address to the Legislature, said Monday that Alaska is under attack from the Biden administration and radical environmentalists seeking to keep the state from fully developing its natural resources including oil and gas.

“The new Biden administration already has issued eight executive orders and actions targeting Alaska’s economy, jobs and our way of life,” Sullivan said. “We knew this anti-Alaska agenda was coming if the national Democratic Party took control of the White House, the Senate and the House.”

Sullivan described Alaska “as always the gift that national Democratic administrations give their extreme radical environmental supporters.” He accused the Biden administration of trying to dismantle progress that Alaska has made for its oil and gas economy and workers.

Sullivan opened his speech by recalling that in March 2020 his annual address was canceled, “right as the pandemic came barreling down on America and Alaska.”

He thanked Alaska’s “skilled and compassionate” health care workforce that enabled the state to lead per capita in Covid-19 testing and vaccines and to have among the nation’s lowest death rates from the virus. 

“Now we face new challenging realities, especially in terms of our economy and national politics,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that he was proud to have worked with state lawmakers and the former Trump administration on achieving “many historic accomplishments” for Alaska. They included “opening up” the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, and “finalizing strategic Alaska resource development projects,” including the Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the Alaska LNG Pipeline and the Ambler Road Project, among others. 

“These were goals that the vast majority of Alaskans had been seeking for decades,” Sullivan said. “This was truly an Alaskan agenda that at its heart was focused on creating good-paying jobs, stronger families and a brighter future for our state.”

He said Alaska’s oil and gas projects are under threat and at risk.

Sullivan focused on potential oil production of the Willow project.

“The real project that we should all be focused on right now is Willow — perhaps the most strategic project for Alaska and America since the development of Prudhoe Bay,” Sullivan said.

The governor’s office estimates the Willow area holds hold between 400 million and 750 million barrels of oil equivalent and could produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day. 

Half of all royalties would be shared with the state of Alaska. The estimated impact to Alaska is “between $4.8 billion and $12.9 billion over the life of the project,” according to the governor’s office. 

Sullivan accused the Biden administration of pausing the oil and gas project at the request of “radical environmental allies,” even though it has undergone review.

“You all have powerful voices,” he told state lawmakers. “Please underscore the importance of Willow” with the Biden administration, he said.

Sullivan said it is essential for lawmakers “working together to fight for the great people we represent.”

Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.