"The opportunities there for employment, for keeping the pipeline operating for another generation or two generations, are critically important for the future of Alaska," Goldsmith said.
Even Wall Street is concerned about a slowdown in offshore drilling because of the oil that's needed to fuel a world economy.
Mark Myers is the state's AGIA coordinator, appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin, to streamline the industry's efforts to build a pipeline to the Lower 48 through the AGIA process.
"Folks will look and reassess the environmental risks, no matter where we're drilling for oil and gas," Myers said.
Myers predicts there will be a national dialogue about the risks of offshore drilling, which will be necessary because onshore supplies are running out.
"We have to go to increasingly more difficult environments to produce in deeper water, more challenging environmental conditions, more expensive production techniques," Myers said.
Right now there are more questions than answers, but one thing is for sure -- a lot is beyond Alaska's control. One wildcard: public perception.
Even though Alaska's offshore drilling conditions are dramatically different from the Gulf of Mexico's, the two will be linked in the public's mind.
"In 1989, just as Congress was getting ready to vote to open ANWR, one of the first serious moves to vote on it, Exxon Valdez happened. And the timing of that was just terrible," said Tim Bradner, an oil and gas reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
He says the timing of the BP spill is terrible for offshore drilling in Alaska.
"There's going to be a lot more attention on backup systems, and redundant systems, standby rigs, things like that, that are going to add cost," Bradner said.
"There's no way to get through this today, without talking about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill," said federal Alaska Pipeline Coordinator Larry Persily at a luncheon sponsored by the Resource Development Council.
From Gov. Tony Knowles to oil industry leaders, the luncheon was a Who's Who in Alaska, all gathered to hear Persily talk about the natural gas pipeline.
He warned about letting the Gulf disaster distract Alaskans.
"A chorus of cheers for onshore gas and a chorus of boos for offshore oil are not going to change the economics of the gas line," Persily said.
Some say it all comes down to the price of gas, but others are not so quick to say their might not be a silver lining in the Gulf disaster for Alaska.
"The awareness of those challenges, I think, is what the oil spill brings out, and that creates some opportunity," Myers said.
Some at the luncheon said they believe the BP spill will spark more interest in energy alternatives, which could help the gas line.
As for BP's investment in Alaska, Steve Rinehart, a spokesperson for BP, said in an e-mail Tuesday: "BP will continue with its Alaska plans. BP is a global company and Alaska is an important part of it."
Contact Rhonda McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org