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Sen. Sullivan stresses Willow drilling project, military spending in annual address to Legislature

Sen. Sullivan stresses Willow drilling project, military spending in annual address to Legislature
US Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses the Alaska Legislature at the State Capitol in Juneau, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Gavel Alaska screen capture)

US Sen. Dan Sullivan on Tuesday urged the Alaska Legislature to use its collective power to support the Willow Project, ConocoPhillips’ massive Arctic drilling proposal.

“Close to 200,000 barrels a day. Seventeen billion in revenue for the feds, for the state, for the North Slope Borough,” he said, reading out the projected results of the project. “The highest environmental standards, and the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any large project of this kind in the world, and broad-based support from so many Alaskans, especially Alaska Native leaders.”

But, Sullivan said, the fight over the project will be “brutal” over the next months while the Biden administration decides whether to greenlight the proposal.

This is because environmental advocates fiercely oppose this project. The town and tribe of the nearest village Nuixut do the same. They say the project will threaten wildlife and a subsistence lifestyle, while accelerating climate change.

In his annual address to the Alaska Legislature, Sullivan asked state lawmakers to pass a resolution in support of Willow.

His speech focused on traditional Alaskan grievances of a heavy-handed federal government and the hope that the state would prosper through resource extraction and military spending.

He said, “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve secured billions in military construction for Alaska, and that continues.” โ€œThis has definitely increased the national security of America. But it has also been a great way to strengthen our economy and drive job growth and Alaska. ,

Sullivan blamed the Biden administration for stalling resource development in Alaska in what he calls the “war on Alaska”. He also blamed the national media, which he complained was biased against Willow. The reporters said they did not believe that a majority of Alaska Natives supported the project.

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“Yeah, you can always find one or two people who you can quote, (who) are against it,” he said at a press conference after his speech.

On a campaign to obtain new icebreakers for the US Coast Guard, Sullivan promised that one was coming. And, he said, it will be homeported in Juno because of his work behind the scenes.

He told legislators, “Sometimes you can take advantage of things like confirmations or promotions of Coast Guard officers, and that’s what I did.” “Said we’re not moving forward on any more promotions in the Coast Guard until we get the study of where you’re going to put the icebreakers in our state.”

But money to buy the next icebreaker, a relatively small commercial ship already built, was cut at the last minute from last year’s federal spending bill. Sullivan told reporters that he heard the money was earmarked for border security, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski also said.

Congresswoman Mary Peltola of Alaska will also deliver a speech at the Alaska Legislature this month, followed by Murkowski.

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