Outside Forces Present Challenges For Alaska Economy

Outside forces – like the European debt crisis and turmoil in the Middle East – present both challenges and potential for Alaska’s economy.

That’s the message Governor Sean Parnell had for the Juneau World Affairs Council on Monday, in a speech reflecting on his first trip overseas as the state’s top elected official.

Parnell says he met business and government leaders on the trip, who called Europe’s debt crisis “a potential global contagion.” He pointed to the United Kingdom, where consumers buy more than $30 million in Alaska seafood every year.

But the governor says there are also opportunities in Europe. Many Eurozone countries, looking for a safe energy alternative to Middle East oil, are thinking of buying liquefied natural gas from the shale-rich Lower 48. Parnell says that opens up other markets to Alaska’s gas.

Recently Parnell has given more credence to the idea of an all-Alaska pipeline to Valdez, where a plant could make liquefied natural gas for export. But he also hasn’t given up on the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act goal of a pipeline through Canada to the Lower 48.

Parnell visited London, the Netherlands, Rome and Israel on his overseas trip. He said the Israel portion was paid for by the Israeli government. The governor’s spokeswoman Sharon Leighow says the state will pay for the rest.

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Casey Kelly is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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