As a lifelong Alaskan, I listened intently to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently. What I took away from the hearing, aside from passionate arguments on both sides of the debate, was a shocking disregard on behalf of some senators toward testimony in support of opening the refuge.
Matthew Rexford, the only person in the room who was actually from Kaktovik where drilling would occur, gave an authentic voice to the village with his testimony in support of development, only to be disregarded by Sen. Maria Cantwell from Washington state. Instead of considering his rationale for responsible development in the area, she wondered aloud why more tribal representatives who oppose ANWR drilling didn’t show.
Interestingly, a portion of Rexford’s testimony argued that the voices of the Iñupiat people, the ones who live in and around the coastal plain, are often left out of the ANWR conversation. Unfortunately for Alaskans, he was proven correct.