Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan on Saturday shared a draft summary of his American Energy & Jobs Plan Act with the Ketchikan Daily News during his two-day visit to Ketchikan.
The summary lists 18 outcomes that the policy will aim to achieve, all of them longstanding Republican policy goals.
He said the planned bill is meant to be a “counterproposal” to the parts of President Joe Biden's $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan pertaining to climate change.
The two-page summary of Sullivan’s proposal does not indicate how much it would cost to implement the proposals listed or whether additional revenue would be needed to pay for it.
Sullivan said he’s hoping to unveil all the details of his plan by the end of the month.
The Republican senator arrived in Ketchikan on Friday and spoke at length with the Daily News on Saturday morning about his proposal, Alaska’s tourism industry, the Biden administration and the energy industry.
Sullivan touted his forthcoming plan as being evidence-based.
“It's all based on data, data, data, data — way better than the Biden plan,” Sullivan said. “We've had experts across the country weigh in (on it). … It's like about a 17-page plan. We footnote the heck out of it, so it’s super data-driven.”
Sullivan's summary includes a “Policies” section with five subsections that he characterized as "pillars" of the plan. As written in the draft summary, the five pillars are as follows:
1."Expand Current Power and Energy Production Base to Leverage Our World Class Energy Resources to Empower American Workers, Enhance U.S. Economic and National Security, and Reduce Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions."
2."Provide Infrastructure, Resources, Investments and Incentives to Build Out the American Renewable Energy Manufacturing and Electricity Sector."
3."Leverage America's Energy and Natural Resource Abundance and Independence to Create Millions of Good-Paying Jobs in the Energy and Manufacturing Sectors."
4."Enact Permitting Reform to Ensure All Energy, Mineral, and Infrastructure Projects can be Built in an Efficient, Timely, and Certain Manner."
5."Leverage America's Abundant Energy and Natural Resources to Continue to Gain Comparative Advantages against China, Russia, Iran and other Foreign Adversaries While Lowering Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions."
Sullivan on Saturday explained that his plan was a response to the environmental parts of Biden's proposal, which he called “a far-left zealot climate plan.”
Biden’s plan includes broad spending on a variety of topics: repairing and upgrading roads, bridges, ports and airports; modernizing public transit; building and renovating affordable housing through tax credits; expanding broadband internet access; upgrading drinking water infrastructure; building and improving public schools; investing in renewable energy research, development and manufacturing.
Many of the president’s proposed infrastructure projects would be aimed at simultaneously reducing environmental impact, too. Addressing public transit needs might mean replacing a 40-year-old city bus with a new, more energy-efficient model, for example, and new affordable housing would be built to modern code requirements that waste less heat.
Sullivan on Saturday did not go into detail about which specific parts of Biden's proposal he found objectionable or harmful to Alaskans, instead focusing on the president’s broader attitudes and stances on environmental regulation and energy. The draft summary describes limited and largely indirect investments in renewable energy research and development.
As the “Guiding Principles” section of the summary explains, “a worker-oriented energy and climate plan should build on and expand job opportunities in all critical energy sectors of the U.S. economy — hydrocarbons, renewables, mining, nuclear — not advance one sector, like wind, over other sectors, like oil and gas.”
The policies listed in the draft summary would expand the use of natural gas and nuclear energy and “Continue American Oil Independence,” though the summary doesn't get into the details about how that will be achieved.
Instead, Sullivan’s plan would support renewable energy sources indirectly, by focusing on domestic production and processing of the rare earth minerals that are used to build components in renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar cells.
China produces and refines nearly all of the world’s rare earth minerals, chiefly due to cost: The country possesses abundant deposits of the minerals, and its lax environmental regulations and low labor costs give it a huge advantage over other rich industrialized countries.
Sullivan's plan would “Develop Domestic Critical Minerals Production, Processing, and Manufacturing” and “Expand Good-Paying Mining Sector Jobs by Building a Robust Domestic Critical Minerals and Rare Earths Supply Chain,” per the summary.
Sullivan said that on Friday he had “a good meeting with the officials of Ucore,” the mining company looking to extract rare earth elements from Prince of Wales Island.
The summary further states that Sullivan’s plan would “Revitalize Manufacturing of Renewable Energy Technology in the U.S.”
He noted that some of the changes in his proposal already are present in the $568 billion infrastructure plan that Republicans have advanced as a counter to the Biden plan.
As an example, he cited a proposal to change the National Environmental Policy Act — the chief law that lays out how the government reviews the environmental consequences of projects before granting permits — to expedite permitting and “Ensure Environmental Reviews Are Not Used to Unnecessarily Delay Projects,” per the language of the summary.
Some proposals in the Sullivan plan are less clearly tied to energy than the flagship items: “Build out the Domestic Maritime and Shipbuilding Industries and the Good-Paying Jobs in these Sectors of the U.S. Economy” is listed under the third “pillar” of the policies section, for example.
But at least one of Sullivan’s proposals would remove at least one hurdle in the way of widespread renewable energy use: energy storage.
His plan would “Expand Research and Development for Transformative Battery Storage Technology,” per the summary — a crucial step that would allow renewable energy sources to reliably meet the varying needs of the community, regardless of the weather or wind.
Further coverage of Sullivan’s interview will be published in a future edition of the Daily News.