By Russell Berman
Delivering the weekly address for Republicans, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell urged Democrats in the Senate to back construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and pushed the Obama administration to re-evaluate the potential for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Parnell devoted the address to energy independence, arguing that federal regulations are preventing states from utilizing oil and gas reserves that could boost the national economy.
"If Washington, D.C. would start working with states to unlock access to federal lands," Parnell said, "an economic boom would be felt across this nation, lifting wages, and creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and improving our national security through energy independence.
"Alaska and many of America's governors are leading our country's energy revolution," he said. "America's resources belong to Americans. They should be unlocked for our benefit and not locked up by Washington."
Parnell called on the Democratic-led Senate to follow the Republican-led House in approving the Keystone pipeline, which backers say would create up to 20,000 jobs.
"This common sense energy infrastructure project is truly shovel-ready, and yet the White House threatened it with a veto," he said. "The project could already be well underway, but the State Department has unnecessarily delayed the project for years."
Democrats say backers are overstating Keystone's jobs numbers.
Parnell also touted his state's offer to help pay part of the cost of drilling on the federally owned Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been at the center of environmental policy debate for decades. Alaska, he said, is offering to pay one-third of the cost of a "fact-finding mission" to study the energy potential of the refuge.
"While the federal government wastes precious taxpayer dollars on green energy boondoggles that have collapsed in failure and bankruptcy, many with no benefit to America, access to federal lands has been consistently blocked by this administration," Parnell said. "Offshore drilling has been stalled. Permitting for energy that can restore jobs across America is delayed. That's not the "all of the above' energy strategy that the president promised."
Parnell is serving out a full term as governor after taking over the state when former Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, resigned in 2009. He announced in early May that he would seek re-election in 2014.