According to Bill Walker, governor of Alaska, searching for oil in Alaska is necessary to pay for the damage caused by climate change.
Climate change is having a huge effect on Alaska. 90% of the population lives in just the two largest cities, both of which are coastal. Villages are having to be moved because of rising sea levels. Erosion is threatening native communities along the coast. The governor said coping with these changes is very expensive-true. However, he thinks that having to “urgently” drill in protected land within the Arctic National Wilderness Refuge is a good idea.
Alaska is the only state without sales or income tax, and 90% of it’s expenditure comes from levies on oil and gas. The price drops in oil have costed the Alaskan economy, only exacerbated by Shell pulling out of an oil deal on the north coast. This would have boosted the income from the Trans Alaskan Pipeline, that traverses 1300km from the north coast to Valdez on the south coast. It is currently carrying 25% of capacity.
“We are in a significant fiscal challenge. We have villages that are washing away because of changes in the climate.
“I don’t see anyone putting together contribution funds to help move Kivalina [A small coastal village facing rising seas]; that is out obligation, we stand by that- we need to figure out how to do that. But those are very expensive- we have about 12 villages in that situation.
This isn’t something we can put off for 10-20 years… We have to begin now- it’s an absolute urgency for Alaska. “ – Bill Walker
President Obama tried to increase protection for the Reserve only to be halted by congress- as all his good ideas are.
One of the main concerns (after how cyclical and therefore bad this idea looks to anyone) is that of the native people in the area. Caribou calve near where Bill Walker proposed developing. The Gwich’in people in the region depend on caribou for food and clothing, as well as their cultural importance.
(Source: BBC News, author; Matt McGrath)