U.S. Secretary of the Interior visits Fairbanks

Over the weekend, Senators from five petroleum-rich states accompanied the U.S. Secretary of the Interior on a visit to Alaska.

On Saturday, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, along with five other senators including Senator Lisa Murkowski, arrived in Fairbanks on a fact finding mission. Although the majority of the tour takes place in Alaska, the senators and Secretary started off the mission visiting a cutting edge liquid natural gas plant in Norway. 

Secretary Zinke discusses why they visited Norway prior to Alaska.

“We toured a liquid natural gas facility, which is on the cutting edge, so this trip was primarily energy, and also to make sure that Norway understands that we are reliable allies,” said Zinke.

When asked how the Department of the Interior is going to handle different natural resource industries clashing, as in the fishing and mining industries in regards to Pebble Mine, Zinke responded that instead of different departments coming to different conclusions, the federal entities need to coordinate better while including the state in final decisions.

In addition to touring ANWR, Zinke will meet with members of the Alaska Federation of Natives to learn more about Native Alaska structure and listen to thoughts and concerns of the indigenous people. 

“Certainly my experience in Montana is—and Steve is with me—we have the Great Plains Tribes, the Warrior Tribes, and my experience is mostly that, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m up here, too, is to learn. I not only represent the Montana Tribes, but now I represent Native Alaskans. I look forward to learning about how they do it, certainly there’s been a lot of success in a lot of the areas where some of the Tribes have been struggling,” said Zinke.

The overall theme of the press conference was a desire for the United States to become the global dominant factor in energy production, while finding the balance between extracting resources and respecting the environment. Senator Cornyn of Texas commented on the untapped resources in Alaska, and how the last administration left those resources unrealized. 

Senator Daines of Montana and Secretary Zinke both mention why the United States should not only strive for energy independence, but achieve global energy dominance.

“As Secretary Zinke pointed out, our opportunity for us is not just about energy independence for the nation, it is about global energy dominance. And if America is the dominant energy producer of the world, we will benefit economically, and the world will be a safer place,” said Daines.

“It’s better to produce energy here under reasonable regulation than watch it be produced overseas with no regulation,” said Zinke.