U.S. Senate Republican candidates debate resource development, government overreach

All three candidates vying for the Republican nomination in August’s senatorial primary election squared off over a variety of issues in Anchorage on Thursday.

U.S Senate Republican candidates Joe Miller, Dan Sullivan, and Mead Treadwell faced a large crowd in the East High School Auditorium.

Though the candidates addressed issues ranging from campaign funds and the IRS, to foreign policy, abortion, and gay rights…natural resource development and federal overreach remained a common thread throughout much of the conversation.

When asked what the number one impediment to natural resource development is, Miller says it’s compromise and “environmentalism run amok.”

“EPA regulations cost more than 5 percent of our annual gross domestic product…the equivalent of the cost of defense and homeland security combined,” Miller said, quoting a Washington Times Op-Ed by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. “Since EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent. This abuse of power by the implementation of regulations infringes upon our basic Constitutional rights.”

Miller followed up by saying bold actions, such as scaling back or abolishing the EPA would be necessary.

Treadwell says the biggest issue in resource development is access.

“We have physical access, we need ports, we need roads, we need railroads, we need pipelines, and those are things that will make our natural resources go to market,” he said.

Treadwell also says legal, labor, and intellectual access is imperative to natural resource development, as is access to markets to sell Alaska’s natural resources.

Sullivan says federal overreach isn’t just the primary obstacle to natural resource development in the state, but to a plethora of other industries as well.

“I used to think it was just in the resource sector…it is everywhere: tourism, financial industry, fishing, small businesses, big businesses,” Sullivan said. “There is hardly an Alaskan that I have met on the campaign trail that does not have some story about federal overreach.”

The debate was organized by the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club in conjunction with radio stations KOAN and KVNT.