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Rep. Don Young warns of economic hardship from gas and oil restrictions

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“Next year is not going to be a good year for the business,” U.S. Rep. Don Young warned energy leaders Wednesday at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference.

“I am high on Alaska [fossil fuels] in the long term. In the short term we are going to hurt” under the Biden administration’s energy policies, Young said.

Joined by U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, Young delivered a somber message to leaders from ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Hilcorp and other energy companies representing some of Alaska’s largest employers.

The oil and gas trade association convention happened to coincide with the Biden administration’s announcement that it is scrapping a decision to open more Alaska land for gas and oil production.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced that it is reversing a Trump-era policy to expand drilling to millions of acres of remote wilderness in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that includes migratory habitats for birds, caribou and other wildlife.

“This decision reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of reviewing existing oil and gas programs to ensure balance on America’s public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations,” according to the announcement.

But Young told oil and gas company leaders that the economic fallout from restrictions like this will be hard to recover from in Alaska.

He predicted that harm to rural and isolated communities in the Far North will be similar to the impact of coal mine closings in the remote Appalachian region. “It is a sad sight in Appalachia, and that is what they are trying to do to Alaska,” Young said.

“This administration is anti-carbon and that is a short-sighted position to take,” said Young referring to the oil, gas and coal produced in Alaska. “We as a nation regardless of climate have to have fossil fuels for many years to come.”

Speaking from his office in Washington, D.C., Young also was critical of statements by environmental groups over the U.S. role in global warming.

“I’m not one of these people who believe the world is coming to an end because we are doing something. But we [in the U.S.] are the ones who are expected to carry the burden,” Young said.

Sullivan criticizes Biden’s energy policies

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan made similar remarks in a presentation that followed Young’s talk with the oil and gas leaders. He said that the Biden administration is heeding the agenda of “far left environmental groups.”

While “enormous progress” was made under Trump to expand gas and oil production in Alaska, Sullivan said that “the Biden administration has arrogantly said, ‘Review everything Trump did.’”

“We are not getting a lot of support from this administration on any of our resource development projects,” said Sullivan, speaking from Washington, D.C.

Sullivan opened his remarks by expressing support and appreciation for the fossil fuel industry in Alaska. About 200 industry representatives met in Anchorage for the daylong conference. Companies spanned oil and gas producers, explorers, refiners and pipelines.

“You guys are the heart and soul of our economy and of job creation and in keeping our country strong,” Sullivan said. “It is not always easy politically when certain industries are being vilified. The last two years have been a challenge.”