This newspaper made no presidential endorsement.
Neither of the major party nominees measured up to our expectations for the nation's highest office. Judging from the closeness of the race, the electorate shared our difficulty choosing between an Al Gore and this George Bush. The messy finish was, perhaps, appropriate in this contest between two lackluster candidates.
That said, Alaska is undeniably better off under George W. Bush.
The presence of a pro-development Republican from oil-savvy Texas should bring a welcome change in the outlook of federal agencies. We anticipate the new administration will appreciate the need for a true national energy policy. It stands to reason that Alaska's vast natural gas resource, as well as the potential for oil within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, should figure in the shaping of that policy.
Beginning this January, after President Bush takes the oath of office, we anticipate a shift in the philosophy of federal land managers. We'll be greatly disappointed if public use of those lands isn't given priority. Alaska has long enough endured the bureaucratic imperialism of blind protection.
We trust regulators from all federal agencies will receive direction from the top to attend their statutory responsibilities, while curbing more zealous attempts to stretch the definition and coverage of laws into areas never imagined by Congress.
The permit renewal process for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, for instance, ought to properly focus on preservation of the line's integrity, safe operations and record of compliance with regulatory orders. We trust a Bush administration will curtail attempts to hijack, or convert, the pipeline permit review into a far-reaching Environmental Impact Study of the combustion engine's role in West Coast markets. Usage of fuels derived from Alaska crude products provides no reasonable basis for such wild distorting of the permit process, yet the concept is actually being taken seriously by the outgoing Clintonites.
In the main, we look forward to the Bush administration applying common sense standards toward development. On that score, the yet-to-be-disclosed identity of the incoming interior secretary holds huge significance for our state. Will we see a statesman, or a preservationist?
Gore's ties to more radical elements in the environmental community made the latter prospect more likely. On that score alone, Alaskans will breathe easier under a Bush administration's stewardship.
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