Alaska was long at the vanguard of America’s energy industry. At one time the State of Alaska accounted for as much as one-quarter of the entire country’s domestic oil production. Alaska’s vast fields also served as a source of pride – and the backbone of the state’s economy. As production surged, it was common to hear industry men revel in the United States’ diminishing reliance on foreign supplies as they worked rigs up and down regional reserves.
Yet, as energy development in the lower 48 has burgeoned over the past decade, those refrains have waned – as has production. Fed by output from the emerging shale reserves in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, state policymakers have watched demand plummet, alongside the price of a barrel of oil. Since its peak in the 1980s, Alaskan oil production has dropped nearly 75 percent. As a result, in 2013, gross domestic product fell by 2.5 percent. By comparison, all other states posted gains.
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