Alaska Democratic Party Considers A Call To End All Oil Production

The state is one of America's top oil producers, but the state Democratic Party's platform could seek to change that
(Photo by: Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images)
Trans-Alaska Pipeline (Alyeska pipleline) running through landscape with Mountain range in the distance in Alaska.

The Alaska Democratic Party is exploring amending its platform to call for an end to all oil drilling and fracking in the state, according to documents obtained by The Daily Wire.

In a document where members of the Alaska State Democratic Party’s Climate Caucus can suggest changes to the party’s platform, some are calling for a complete end to oil development in one of America’s premier oil-producing states.

One member of the caucus, Tim Hinterberger, condemned oil development in its entirety. Hinterberger, a professor at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, proposed that the party delete a statement from its current platform that pledges support for “responsible oil development performed in a manner that protects our fish, game, and wildlife resources.”

“At this advanced stage of climate disruption, no oil development is responsible,” Hinterberger wrote.

While some in the Alaska Democratic Party call for a complete end to oil production, the state’s economy remains largely dependent on the industry. Alaska produced 159,611,000 barrels of crude oil in 2022, making it the fifth-highest producer of any American state. The oil industry was also estimated to have been responsible for $4.8 billion in wages and 77,600 direct and indirect jobs in 2018. The oil industry even accounts for about one-half of the state’s total economy when taking into account state spending of revenues from the industry.

The statement in support of “responsible oil development” was just one such line that those involved in editing the platform are calling on the party to remove. Must Read Alaska reported that those involved in the modification of the platform also urged the party to ax a separate portion of the platform that advocated for oil and gas to be procured under certain circumstances.

The report found that those editing the document also urged the party to remove a portion that read “the monetizing of Alaska’s North Slope natural gas resources in a safe and environmentally responsible manner as soon as it is economically feasible to do so” and also advocated for offshore drilling and fracking under certain circumstances.

The calls for an end to oil development come as the oil industry in Alaska has experienced decline, retreating significantly from 1998 the state accounted for a quarter of the United State’s oil production.

Rick Whitbeck, the Alaska State Director of Power the Future, a nonprofit organization that advocates for those who work in the energy space, warned that curtailing the state’s petroleum industry would have devastating consequences and charged that the proposed change to the Democratic Party’s platform is “both irresponsible and radical.”

“Alaska would quickly be bankrupt if our petroleum industry was shuttered.  Nearly 20% of our private-sector workforce is paid – directly or indirectly – by oil and gas development revenues, so you’d see a mass exodus of people as well,” Whitbeck told The Daily Wire. “Philanthropy would dry up, our vibrant arts and culture programs would go unfunded and our infrastructure would crumble without revenues to keep them maintained.”

He went on to contend that the Biden administration currently has a “choke-hold” on new energy developments, which means that the U.S. “needs all of the existing projects operating full-throttle, so we don’t become even more dependent on foreign countries for our domestic oil demand.”

Alaska’s only statewide elected official from the Democratic Party, Representative Mary Peltola (D-AK), declined to comment directly on the potential changes in the state party’s platform, but did assert that losing the oil and gas industry would significantly damage the state’s economy.

“Oil and gas supports thousands of jobs in-state, directly and indirectly, and provides crucial revenue for the state and local communities. Losing these industries without effectively transitioning to other energy sources would be significantly harmful to Alaska,” Rep. Peltola’s office told The Daily Wire before pointing to her support of the Willow Project, which she called “the largest North Slope oilfield investment in decades.”

Tim Hinterberger did not respond to a request for comment. 

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