Earlier this month, the Resource Development Council (RDC) hosted its 37th Annual Resources Conference. It’s the time of year when the resources industries come together to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and look ahead to the coming year. Conference organizers took a new approach to the sessions with panel discussions and it was a great change. Instead of hearing from each presenter individually, the moderator led a facilitated discussion and asked questions relevant to each specific area. This provided a well-rounded discussion on current events and a look to 2017 and beyond.
This year’s presentations provided a cautiously optimistic look towards the future of resource development in Alaska. Recent years have been tough for oil and gas, mining, and forestry. Fishing and tourism have had good years, but also see a lot of regulation and federal overreach. This year, speakers noted that with the shift in federal administration, there could be some hope for a change federal overreach and regulations that have crippled the industry in recent years. There are still a lot of unknowns, but most are hopeful for a favorable adjustment to way the State of Alaska and the Federal Government interact.
The area where the optimism faded was when the state’s fiscal situation was discussed. For many, the lack of a sustainable budget plan causes angst and uncertainty. This topic has been a headliner at the conference for the past couple of years and while attendees hoped that things would be better next year, they were realistic to the fact that difficult decisions were needed to maintain any sort of sustainable budget. Many stated that while they were hopeful for a solution, they knew that hope was not a good strategy and real work must be done to move the state forward. Numerous legislators were in the audience throughout the conference and speakers reminded them of their responsibility to make difficult decisions to maintain a functioning state government.
The team at RDC always puts on a great conference, with detailed information on the happenings throughout resource development, networking opportunities and a chance to plan for the future of Alaska. Presentations and videos of each session are saved at RDC’s website.