In address to Legislature, Sullivan slams Biden resource decisions

a person speaks from behind a podium
Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan takes the stage shortly after 11 p.m. Nov. 3, 2020, at the 49th State Brewing Co. in Anchorage. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan told Alaska’s legislators on Monday that President Biden’s administration is at war with Alaska over developing resources. 

In an address to a joint session in the Legislature, Sullivan said Alaska’s economy benefited from a series of decisions by former President Trump’s administration. These decisions included on oil development for the Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the development of a road between King Cove and Cold Bay that will run through a national wildlife refuge. He says those decisions are under attack.

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“This is not surprising,” 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. Alaska is always the gift that national Democratic administrations give their extreme, radical environmental supporters.”

This year is the first time Sullivan, a Republican, has been in the minority caucus in the U.S. Senate. And with Democrats controlling both Congress and the White House, he said he will be strategic.

“We need to look for ways to gain ground when we can, even if we feel that we’re in retreat right now,” he said.

He said support in Alaska for developing projects like the oil discovery at Willow hasn’t been partisan. 

“But we need all of your help, especially our Democratic friends in the Legislature,” he said. “You all have powerful voices. Please, underscore the importance of Willow in any and all conversations you have with any Biden administration officials. We need to turn Willow into a victory for Alaska and America.”

He said the Biden administration’s proposals are part of a long-term battle facing the country.  

“They’re tempting America with cradle-to-grave, European-style socialism,” he said. “They’re cutting the ties between work and income, and in so doing, undermining the notion of earned success and the dignity and importance of work.”

But he did say there were some early successes for the state with the new administration, including the decision to build a dock, pier and office in Ketchikan, to serve as the home port for a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel.

It was the Legislature’s first joint session in the House chamber since the pandemic arrived in Alaska. The Legislature has been easing some of its COVID-19 safety rules, including no longer requiring fully vaccinated people who work in the Capitol to frequently be tested for the coronavirus.