President Biden Zoomed with world leaders last week to announce his plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Unfortunately, his proposal will almost certainly have the opposite effect by transferring relatively clean U.S. energy production to dirty producers overseas.
As children, we learn that objects continue to exist even when they can’t be seen. Energy production is no exception. By canceling American projects, resource extraction and jobs are shifting to environmentally damaging operations in Russia, China and elsewhere.
The evidence is everywhere. On Russia’s Yamal Peninsula, construction of a mammoth $27 billion natural-gas plant was recently completed in support of the region’s 1,500 gas-flaring production sites. In China, the world’s leading polluter is producing more low-quality coal, methane emissions, and CO2 with each passing year.
So why has the Biden administration chosen to target Alaska’s highly regulated energy industry? What logic is there in trading clean North Slope oil production for Yamal’s methane-spewing wells? Alaska’s oil and gas producers don’t flare their gas—they pump it back into the ground. State-of-the-art horizontal-drilling technology limits their development footprint. And caribou herds are larger now than they were when exploration in Prudhoe Bay began.
Maybe the president considers the demands made by his green allies a matter of principle. But canceling responsible energy development in Alaska directly finances the destruction of the environment by those who take up our market share. Mr. Biden’s decisions transfer production and jobs away from clean Alaskan oil fields, impoverishing the rural Alaskans who call the North Slope home.
As governor of Alaska, and a resident of rural Alaska for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen the tragedy that results when government steals opportunity from hurting communities. As the Iñupiat tribal administrator of the only village within ANWR told Congress in April, the input of those who live in Kaktovik has been entirely ignored. Not only that—they’ve been denied the right to explore for resources on their own land. Under the Biden administration, if you don’t support the false narratives, you’re canceled.
The president’s willingness to sacrifice the livelihoods and futures of Americans to promote Russian interests unwittingly is shameful. The administration’s new emissions-target promises were more of the same: America commits to destroying economic opportunity while bad actors overseas make promises they have no intention of keeping. Russia wins. Americans, Alaskans and the environment lose.
And that’s not the only way the Biden administration’s decisions are harming the environment and the economy. While the president and I disagree on the future of fossil fuels, it’s indisputable that a transition to renewables can’t happen overnight. Efforts to increase the use of renewables will put a significant demand on the core components needed for wind turbines, photovoltaics and electric vehicles, including copper, rare earth minerals and, yes, even oil.
Experts predict a nearly 500% increase in mineral demand created by the push to decarbonize the world. Alaska is the place to find a responsible way to meet this demand. No major mining accident has occurred in Alaska, yet the U.S. continues to source its minerals from the Congo, South Africa and China while Washington regulators deny permits to projects on state of Alaska lands designated for mining.
Whether it’s fossil fuels or the minerals needed to power the future, protecting the environment requires sourcing the necessary raw materials from responsible jurisdictions. Nowhere is better suited for that than Alaska.
Mr. Dunleavy, a Republican, is governor of Alaska.
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Appeared in the May 1, 2021, print edition.