Alaska’s Economic Future Continues To Be Driven By Responsible Development

Alaska’s Economic Future Continues To Be Driven By Responsible Development

April 21, 2020

A comment on Alaska State Director, Rick Whitbeck’s, personal Facebook page from yesterday’s “Just Transition? Just Stop!” blog post is worth sharing and discussing today.

The comment read, “This would be more compelling if you were offering a leadership vision and a path towards thinking as ‘us.’  As written, this is divisive and counterproductive.”

We couldn’t disagree more, for the simple reason that Alaska has a way forward, and it looks much like the past sixty years of statehood. Our state will always be resource-extraction-driven.

Alaska is blessed with natural abundance, including the two largest national forests, the highest peak in North America and rivers teaming with world-class fishing.  It also holds, under its stunning exterior, oil, gas, minerals and rare earth materials needed for everyday life.

While many Alaskans might wish for our state to be known as a leading manufacturing center, it hasn’t happened yet, and most likely never will be.  While tourism (pre-COVID-19) has been a sustaining industry, employing thousands during the summer, and certainly helps local communities fund their areas, with bed and sales taxes.

Commercial fishing and processing brings thousands of non-residents to Alaska to work on boats and in canneries each year.  Along with the hundreds of Alaskans with permits, the industry provides many with necessary income, but it isn’t an economic driver for local and state governments.

What pays the bills?  Oil, gas, mining. Oil has filled the State’s coffers since Prudhoe Bay first started, and gas and mining have as well.  With significant lease areas (NPR-A, ANWR’s 1002 Coastal Plain and others) still to explore and responsibly develop, oil and gas isn’t going away.

Alaska’s mining opportunities are going to contribute to the economy for decades, once they’re opened and in production.  Pebble, Constantine, Donlin, Graphite One, Upper Kobuk and others will add thousands of jobs and untold tens to hundreds of millions in state and local revenues over their lifespans.

The ‘leadership vision’ asked for in the post is going to be the same as it is now, and Power The Future will continue to lead the charge in appreciating and advocating for the men and women who will power Alaska’s economy for a long, long time. 

As for being divisive?  Extremists may disagree, but providing factual information will never be ‘divisive.’  Especially with current unemployment numbers surging into territories not seen since the Great Depression, speaking about opportunities for good-paying jobs should be welcomed, not ridiculed.