The Nov. 19 editorial, “Saving our last wilderness,” lauds Maria Cantwell for trying to lock up the portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) that Congress in 1980 set aside specifically for potential drilling. The area is 19.5 million acres of mostly frozen hell; it is not a pristine wilderness that any future generation will feel the need to go see as some would have you believe. Go there, check it out, I have. Kaktovik is the only village and has about 300 residents most of which are either unemployed or work for some form of government.
Drilling for oil has advanced to the point where the footprint is minimal. The impact is barely noticeable, definitely not by the residents of Kaktovik. Don’t let the environmentalists convince you that a village of 300 needs 19.5 million acres to hunt and gather to feed themselves, these folks rarely get more than 10 miles from their village. The caribou herd has increased in size since the pipeline was built. In the winter months the herd often uses the pipeline route to migrate, they seem to like the warmth created by the friction of the oil moving through the pipeline. They are not afraid of drilling or the pipeline itself and it has not nor will additional drilling negatively impact the herd. After watching Shell’s issue’s with drilling in the Chukchi Sea and BP’s problems down in the Gulf of Mexico I would think that folks would rather see drilling on land rather than out in the ocean, I know I would.
The permanent fund really has nothing to do with this issue. Twenty-five percent of the oil revenues are deposited into the fund where it is managed (stocks, bonds etc.) and each year approximately 25 percent of the earnings (not to be confused with revenues) are distributed to all Alaskans. This is a huge portion of many of the villagers annual income where unemployment often exceeds 50 percent. At this point in time the fund has more to do with how the market is doing than how much oil is pumped out of the ground. So don’t think that Alaskans want more oil so they get more free money and only Maria Cantwell can save them from themselves.
Alaska is a big state, nearly 425 million acres. The federal government owns about 65 percent of it in the form of national forests, parks and wildlife refuges. The 1.5 million acres that Maria Cantwell is attempting to lock up makes up .004 percent of the total land mass of Alaska, don’t they already have enough? Whether you like fossil fuels or not, that is what has been developed as our primary source of energy that propels our vehicles and gets us to where we need to go. I would think that people’s energies would be better spent helping to develop and promote the next generation of energy, maybe that’s hydrogen, it certainly doesn’t seem to be bio-fuels, that one flopped didn’t it?