At a news conference at the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, Gov. Mike Dunleavy outlined his plan to have the state divest its assets from Russia. The disruption in the global market could be beneficial to Alaska, the governor said, if it is able to develop its resources. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

At a news conference at the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, Gov. Mike Dunleavy outlined his plan to have the state divest its assets from Russia. The disruption in the global market could be beneficial to Alaska, the governor said, if it is able to develop its resources. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Alaska pushes ahead with Russian divestment

Gov urges resource production as inflation increases

Alaska’s elected officials — at both the state and federal levels — Tuesday continued efforts to divest the state from Russian assets and to promote the state’s potential for domestic oil and resource production.

In a news conference at the Alaska State Capitol, Gov. Mike Dunleavy repeated his call for the state to divest itself from Russian interests. The governor announced Friday he was directing state agencies to examine contracts and break any relationships with Russia or Russian companies and for a general boycott of Russian goods.

“I call on all Alaskans to think twice before buying Russian products,” Dunleavy said.

He said he had directed the Department of Revenue to divest its assets from Russia, and called on the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. to do the same. Department of Revenue Commissioner Lucinda Mahoney said at the news conference the state’s Russia investments —which she said constituted a small portion of the state’s investments — were now only worth $10-15 million, down from over $200 million.

Mahoney said at the conference it was no longer prudent to hold those investments but did not say if they had yet been sold.

Dunleavy said many of the state’s actions were largely symbolic, and would likely have minimal impact on the Russian economy, but said it was important for the state to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Oil prices on the rise

During the conference, Dunleavy said the situation in Ukraine — which he at one point called, “for lack of a better expression, a civil war,” — would likely exacerbate inflation and the high costs of oil.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday the ban on Russian oil is likely to increase the already record-high price of oil Americans are currently paying. The price of benchmark U.S. crude jumped 8% Tuesday to more than $129 per barrel, AP reported.

Amid soaring oil prices, oil companies are posting record profits. Reuters reported ExxonMobile recorded its highest profits in seven years, taking in $8.87 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021. Shell reported more than $6 billion in profits during the same period, according to the New York Times and ConocoPhillips announced Feb. 3 it had taken in $8.1 billion in 2021’s last quarter.

Also Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it fined oil company Hilcorp Alaska more than $180,000 for Clean Air Act violations at 35 of its Prudhoe Bay, Milne Point, and Kenai Peninsula facilities. HillCorp purchased BP’s assets in Alaska when that company left the state.

The high price of oil will translate to increased revenues for the state, Dunleavy said, likely in the billions of dollars. The governor said he was working with the Legislature to expedite a Permanent Fund Dividend to help Alaskans deal with increased costs. The state’s spring revenue forecast is due next week, the governor said.

Demands for domestic development

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the U.S. was banning the importation of Russian oil, a move advocated for by Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released a joint statement with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. praising the oil ban and calling for increased domestic resource production.

“If there was ever a time to change course on harmful policies that have restricted domestic production, it is right now, “ Murkowski said. “American energy is a solution that can help us address high prices, inflation, and the needs of our allies.”

[Forest Service presents revised Mendenhall expansion plans]

On Twitter, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said the decision to ban Russian oil should have come weeks ago.

“Pres. Biden, tell the truth: We CAN produce the oil & gas we need right here in the US,” Sullivan said on social media. “Americans should NOT be paying outrageous energy costs.”

U.S. Rep Don Young, R-Alaska, and state Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, co-authored an opinion piece in The Hill advocating for increased oil production in America.

Dunleavy too called on the federal government to fast-track the permitting process for American energy and resources projects and called the Biden administration’s environmental policies an effort to destroy the state of Alaska. Dunleavy said his administration was looking into ending its relationships with financial institutions that have vowed not to invest in Arctic energy projects, calling those policies discriminatory toward Alaska.

According to Dunleavy, federal agencies are “doing everything they can to make sure this state can’t survive as a state. They offer us handouts, that’s great but that’s not how you build a state. Simply leave us alone to develop our resources.”

Bills and resolutions

State Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, who chairs the House State Affairs Committee said lawmakers will introduce legislation that will completely divest Alaska from Russia, including $81 billion in the Alaska Permanent Fund and $34 billion in pension funds.

“With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we are witnessing evil in real time,” Kreiss-Tomkins said in a statement. “Divesting the State of Alaska of its Russian assets — which were once worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars — is one small step Alaskans can take to support Ukrainians and their fight for sovereignty, democracy, and freedom.”

The Alaska State Senate is moving two joint resolutions, one calling for a ban on Russia energy and resource imports and for the development of those industries in Alaska, and another declaring solidarity with Ukraine.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. has said it does not make investment decisions based on political calculations, and that it is monitoring the situation in Ukraine closely. APFC did not immediately respond to request for comment.

But the governor said Tuesday the state should look at other countries the state does business with and consider ending relationships with those that don’t align with the values of the U.S.

“We all need to decide if this is a one-off or do we look at other countries,” Dunleavy said. “There are conflicts all over the world, I think that’s a worthy discussion.”

Dunleavy said Tuesday he believed the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine will cause a reverse in globalization the state should capitalize on. The governor repeated his calls for the state to become more independent by increasing resource production and agriculture, and said Alaska should make itself attractive to investors by flattening the permitting process.

“In the end, this is a difficult time we’re going through, we have the ability to make life better for our people through our actions here in Juneau,” Dunleavy said. “We’re coalescing around some concepts, I hope we don’t run out of time.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, Feb. 26, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Former state labor commissioner Ed Flanagan, State Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, and the Rev. Michael Burke of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage wheel boxes of signed petitions into a state Division of Elections office on Jan. 9. The petitions were for a ballot initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage, mandate paid sick leave and ensure that workers are not required to hear employers’ political or religious messages. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Minimum wage increase, ranked choice repeal have enough signatures to be on ballot

A pair of ballot measures have enough public support to appear on… Continue reading

State senators meet with members of the media at the Alaska State Capitol to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Nanibaa’ Frommherz, a student at Thunder Mountain High School, testifies about a proposal to help the Juneau School District with its financial crisis during a Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night at City Hall. The meeting was moved from the Assembly Chambers to a conference room toward the end due to technical errors that disrupted the live online feed.
Little public reaction to city’s bailout of school district this year, but big questions beyond loom

Only two people testify Monday about proposed $4.1M loan and taking over $3.9 in “shared costs.”

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Mauka Grunenberg looks at live oysters for sale on Aug. 29, 2022, at Sagaya City Market in Anchorage. The oysters came from a farm in Juneau. Oysters, blue mussels and sugar, bull and ribbon kelp are the main products of an Alaska mariculture industry that has expanded greatly in recent years. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s mariculture industry expands, with big production increases in recent years, report says

While Alaska’s mariculture industry is small by global standards, production of farmed… Continue reading

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (center) walks with Alaska Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, and Alaska Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, into the Alaska House of Representatives chambers ahead of her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Peltola celebrates federal intervention in Albertsons, Kroger merger in legislative address

Congresswoman says wins for Alaska’s fisheries and state’s economy occurring through collaboration.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, speaks in support of Senate concurrence on a version of an education bill passed by the Alaska House last week during a Senate floor discussion on Monday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate concurs on House education bill, Dunleavy is skeptical

Dunleavy schedules press conference Tuesday afternoon in Anchorage to discuss the legislation.

Most Read