Commentary: Obama should look north for energy policy

In recent days President Obama has gotten Alaskans' attention with his encouragement of oil production in Brazil and his call for a 33 percent cut in U.S. oil imports in a decade.

Brazil? Well, OK, but if the goal is to increase U.S. domestic production, the president should first look west and north from D.C. to Alaska prospects.

Right off the top we can think of two prospects that could stand federal encouragement.

The first is to grant a permit for Conoco Phillips to build a bridge and road across the Colville River into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Conoco and Anadarko have long sought to tap NPR-A's oil, an operation that would allow Conoco to expand its currently producing Alpine field.

The Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit, Conoco has appealed, and that appeal is under consideration.

We'd argue there's a reason it's called the National Petroleum Reserve, and also point out that it's been federal policy in the past to encourage development there in lieu of exploration on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Otherwise why sell leases in the reserve?

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