WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Tuesday it is taking a diverse approach to energy development in Alaska where it is pushing for natural gas drilling, offshore oil drilling and alternative energy.
Several cabinet agencies are cooperating with energy companies in a plan to drill for natural gas along the northern coast of the state and to build a natural gas pipeline from there to the North American grid at the Canadian border, said Larry Persily, a federal agent in charge of transporting natural gas from the arctic to the continental states.
Persily and David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Department of Interior, talked about the federal approach at a forum hosted by Platts Energy, a global provider of energy, petrochemicals and metals.
Alaska’s economy and government are heavily dependent on the local energy industry. Oil taxes and royalties fund 90 percent of the general fund of the state government, which imposes no sales tax or income tax on its citizens, Persily said.
The Obama administration is also working with multinational energy company Shell to form a plan for offshore oil exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, off the north and northwest coast of the state respectively, Hayes said. The Interior Department is putting particular focus on ensuring that Shell has an effective oil spill response plan in place before approving the plan.
Keeping with its multidimensional approach to energy development, the administration is also working to bring alternative energy to remote Alaskan villages that are otherwise dependent on expensive and unreliable diesel fuel, Hayes said.