It’s very simple common sense that two things our country needs right now are jobs and domestic energy sources. Conveniently, there’s an easy way to help improve our situation in both regards, just by following through on plans first made 25 years ago.
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell wrote a great op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal today, “What’s the Hold-Up on Alaskan Oil?” The governor was inspired to write because the House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that would finally allow some oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, ANWR. The bill would set aside 400,000 acres—which is less than 3 percent of the total acreage in ANWR.
As Governor Parnell notes, development in ANWR was first recommended by the U.S. Department of the Interior 25 years ago, but the federal government has been in a stalling action for a quarter-century.
A majority of Alaskans support developing at least a part of ANWR, and the governor argues that “greater oil and gas production means jobs and economic growth, which develop the stable communities that underpin a strong nation.”
Following through on domestic energy sources in Alaska (and elsewhere) can have a major impact on both energy and jobs (including small businesses!).
On the energy side, every barrel of oil we produce domestically is one less barrel that we have to import from foreign sources. There are more than 10 billion barrels of accessible oil in ANWR, and our demand for fuels isn’t going down. Developing sustainable energy sources is important, but it’s foolish to ignore the needs of today; we can do both.
But energy development is even better for job creation. Of course, it creates jobs for engineers and others directly involved in the extraction process. But it creates more than that. In North Dakota, the Bakken shale boom has driven unemployment down to just 3.5 percent. The energy sector’s growth fueled a simultaneous boom in all kinds of other jobs, which is a great opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Governor Parnell’s call to action on the energy front is a no-brainer. Let’s hope those in charge of making the decisions have the vision to see it.