What an absolutely beautiful day it is, and it is my honor to speak to all Alaskans, to our Alaskan family this last time as your governor. And it is always great to be in Fairbanks. The rugged rugged hardy people that live up here and some of the most patriotic people whom you will ever know live here, and one thing that you are known for is your steadfast support of our military community up here and I thank you for that and thank you United States military for protecting the greatest nation on Earth. Together we stand.
And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature's finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it's the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice fogged frigid beauty, the cold though, doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs?
And then in the summertime such extreme summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future.
That is what we get to see every day. Now what the rest of America gets to see along with us is in this last frontier there is hope and opportunity and there is country pride.
And it is our men and women in uniform securing it, and we are facing tough challenges in America with some seeming to just be Hell bent maybe on tearing down our nation, perpetuating some pessimism, and suggesting American apologetics, suggesting perhaps that our best days were yesterdays.
But as other people have asked, "How can that pessimism be, when proof of our greatness, our pride today is that we produce the great proud volunteers who sacrifice everything for country?" Now this week alone, Sean Parnell and I we're on the, um, on Ft. Rich the base there, the army chapel, and we heard the last roll call, and the sounding of Taps for three very brave, very young Alaskan soldiers who just gave their all for all of us. Together we do stand with gratitude for our troops who protect all of our cherished freedoms, including our freedom of speech which, par for the course, I'm going to exercise.
And first, some straight talk for some, just some in the media because another right protected for all of us is freedom of the press, and you all have such important jobs reporting facts and informing the electorate, and exerting power to influence. You represent what could and should be a respected honest profession that could and should be the cornerstone of our democracy.
Democracy depends on you, and that is why, that's why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how 'bout in honor of the American soldier, ya quite makin' things up. And don't underestimate the wisdom of the people, and one other thing for the media, our new governor has a very nice family too, so leave his kids alone.
OK, today is a beautiful day and today as we swear in Sean Parnell, no one will be happier than I to witness by God's grace Alaskans with strength of character advancing our beloved state. Sean has that. Craig Campbell has that. I remember on that December day, we took the oath to uphold our state constitution, and it was written right here in Fairbanks by very wise pioneers.
We shared the vision for government that they ground in that document. Our founders wrote "all political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people. It's founded upon their will only and it's instituted for the good of the people as a whole." Their remarkably succinct words guided us in all of our efforts in serving you and putting you first, and we have done our best to fulfill promises that I made on Alaska Day, 2005, when I first asked for the honor of serving you.
Remember then, our state so desired and so deserved ethics reform. We promised it, and now it is the law. Ironically, it needs additional reform to stop blatant abuse from partisan operatives, and I hope the lawmakers will continue that reform. We promised that you would finally see a fair return on your Alaskan owned natural resources so we build a new oil and gas appraisal system, an is an equitable formula to usher in a new era of competition and transparency and protection for Alaskans and the producers.
ACES incentivizes new exploration and it's the exploration that is our future. It opens up oil basins and it ensures that the people will never be taken advantage of again. Don't forget Alaskans you are the resource owners per our constitution and that's why for instance last year when oil prices soared and state coffers swelled, but you were smacked with high energy prices, we sent you the energy rebate. See, it's your money and I've always believed that you know how to better spend it than government can spend it.
I promised that we would protect this beautiful environment while safely and ethically developing resources, and we did. We built the Petroleum Oversight Office and a sub-cabinet to study climate conditions. And I promised I'd govern with fiscal restraint, so to not immorally burden future generations. And we did...we slowed the rate of government growth and I vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of excess and with lawmakers we saved billions for the future.
I promised that we'd lead the charge to forward funding education, and hold schools accountable, and improve opportunities for special needs students and elevate vo-tech training and we paid down pension debt.
I promised that we would manage our fish and wildlife for abundance, and that we would defend the constitution, and we have, though outside special interest groups they still just don't get it on this one. Let me tell you, Alaskans really need to stick together on this with new leadership in this area especially, encouraging new leadership... got to stiffen your spine to do what's right for Alaska when the pressure mounts, because you're going to see anti-hunting, anti-second amendment circuses from Hollywood and here's how they do it.
They use these delicate, tiny, very talented celebrity starlets; they use Alaska as a fundraising tool for their anti-second amendment causes. Stand strong, and remind them patriots will protect our guaranteed, individual right to bear arms, and by the way, Hollywood needs to know, we eat, therefore we hunt.
I promised energy solutions and we have, we have a plan calling for 50% of our electricity generated by renewable resources and we can now insist that those who hold the leases to develop our resources that they do so now on Alaska's terms. So now finally after decades of just talk, finally we're seeing oil and gas drilling up there at Point Thompson.
And I promised that we would get a natural gas pipeline underway and we did. Since I was a little kid growing up here, I remember the discussions, especially the political discussions just talking about and hoping for and dreaming of commercializing our clean, abundant, needed natural gas.
Our gas line inducement act, AGIA, that was the game-changer and this, is thanks to our outstanding gas line team, and the legislature adopting this law, 58-1. They knew, they know AGIA is the vehicle to drive this monumental energy project and bring everyone to the table, this bipartisan victory, it came from Alaskans working together with free market private sector principles, and now we are on the road to the largest private-sector energy project in the history of America. It is for Alaska's future, it is for America's energy independence and it will make us a more peaceful, prosperous and secure nation.
What I promised, we accomplished. "We" meaning state staff, amazing commissioners, great staff assisting them, and conscientious Alaskans outside the bureaucracy - Tom Van Flein, and Meg Stapleton and Kristan Cole, so many others, many volunteers who just stepped up to the challenge as good Alaskans, but nothing, nothing could have succeeded without my right-hand man Kris Perry. She is the sharpest, boldest, hardest-working partner. Kris is my right-hand man and much success is due to Kris.
So much success and Alaska there is much good in store further down the road, but to reach it we must value and live the optimistic pioneering spirit that made this state proud and free, and we can resist enslavement to big central government that crushes hope and opportunity. Be wary of accepting government largess. It doesn't come free and often, accepting it takes away everything that is free, melting into Washington's powerful "care-taking" arms will just suck incentive to work hard and chart our own course right out of us, and that not only contributes to an unstable economy and dizzying national debt, but it does make us less free.
I resisted the stimulus package. I resisted the stimulus package and we have championed earmark reform, slashing earmark requests by 85% to break the cycle of dependency on a stifling, unsustainable federal agenda, and other states should follow this for their and for America's stability. We don't have to feel that we must beg an allowance from Washington, except to beg the allowance to be self-determined. See, to be self-sufficient, Alaska must be allowed to develop - to drill and build and climb, to fulfill statehood's promise. At statehood we knew this.
At statehood we knew this, that we are responsible for ourselves and our families and our future, and fifty years later, please let's not start believing that government is the answer. It can't make you happy or healthy or wealthy or wise. What can? It is the wisdom of the people and our families and our small businesses, and industrious individuals, and it is God's grace, helping those who help themselves, and then this allows that very generous voluntary hand up that we're known for, enthusiastically providing those who need it.
Alaskans will remember that years ago, remember we sported the old bumper sticker that said, "Alaska. We Don't Give a Darn How They Do It Outside?" Do you remember that? I remember that, and remember it was because we would be different. We'd roll up our sleeves, and we would diligently sow and reap, and we can still do this to carve wealth out of the wilderness and make our living on the water, with strong hands and innovative minds, now with smarter technology.
It is what our first people and our parents did. It worked, because they worked. We must be prudent and persistent and press for the people's right to responsibly develop God-given resources for the maximum benefit of the people.
And we have come so far in just 50 years. We're no longer a frontier outpost on the periphery of the world's greatest nation. Now, as a contributor and a securer of America, we can attain our destiny in the promise of our motto "North to the Future." See, the pressing issue of our time, its energy independence, because there is an inherent link between energy and security, and energy and prosperity. Alaska will lead with energy, we will prove you can be both pro-development and pro-environment, because no one loves their clean air and their land and their wildlife and their water more than an Alaskan. We will protect it.
Yes, America must look north to the future for security, for energy independence, for our strategic location on the globe. Alaska is the gate-keeper of the continent.
So, we are here today at a changing of the guard. Now, people who know me, and they know how much I love this state, some still are choosing not to hear why I made the decision to chart a new course to advance the state. And it should be so obvious to you. (indicating heckler) It is because I love Alaska this much, sir (at heckler) that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics as usual, lame duck session in one's last year in office. How does that benefit you? No, with this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, for truth. And I have never felt like you need a title to do that.
So, as we all move forward together, let's vow to keep championing Alaska, to advocate responsible development, and smaller government, and freedom, and when I took the oath to serve you, I promised...remember I promised to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this great state like that grizzly guards her cubs, as a mother naturally guards her own.
And I will keep that vow wherever the road may lead. Todd and I, and Track, Bristol, Tripp, Willow, Piper, Trig...I think I got 'em all. We will forever be so grateful for the honor of our lifetime to have served you. Our whole big diverse full and fun family, we all thank you and I am very very blessed to have had their support all along, for Todd's support. I am thankful too. I have been blessed to have been raised in this last frontier. Thank you for our home, Mom and Dad, because in Alaska it is not an easy living, but it is a good living, and here it is impossible to lose your way. Wherever the road may lead you, we have that steadying great north star to guide us home.
So let's all enjoy the ride, and I thank you Alaska, and God bless Alaska and God bless America.