The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC), who just released their final report, has recommended the state to take several steps to enchance Arctic communities. There are only two problems; money – and the fact that President Obama is calling on the Congress to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for future generations.
The final report from AAPC is now ready, and the recommandations center around four areas:
* Economic and resource development
* Healthy communities
* Science and research
According to the Fairbanks-based newspaper several projects that would advance those goals are mentioned in the report.
The President's assault on Alaska
At a news conference earlier this week, Bob Herron, a Democratic member of the Alaska House of Representatives, said that a lot of these projects may be postponed until funding is available, but that it is important to start planning for them.
Herron and Senator Lesil McGuire (Republican) are Co-chairs of the commission.
- The AAPC’s work is even more critical after the president’s assault on Alaska this week through his wilderness designation regarding Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the blocking of drilling in many areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Senator McGuire said at the news conference.
The question of whether to drill for oil in the ANWR has been an ongoing political controversy in the United States since 1977. President Barack Obama recently announced a comprehensive plan to protect ANWR, and he’s calling on the Congress to preserve it for future generations.
About a week ago the White House released this video, “Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”, on the matter.
Need for economic development
- Over the past two years, the commission traveled all across Alaska to gather public testimony and hear from the communities who wouldbe most affected by any Arctic Policy. What we heard over and over was the need for economic development.
- Through this report and legislation we hope to make the biggest impact we can on the future of the North, said Representative Herron.
- Our goal is to ensure public safety and encourage economic opportunity. We also want to protect lands and waters of Arctic Alaska and ensure food security for Arctic residents. We are the ones who live here and we want to make it clear the Federal Government needs to put Alaska in the driver’s seat for Arctic policy.
Arctic fund or private investors
Senator Lesil McGuire suggested private investors and the state’s Arctic Infrastructure Fund as possible sources of money.
The fund enables the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to make loans, or loan guarantees, for Arctic projects such as ports, roads, telecommunications, emergency services and fisheries infrastructure.
Federal revenue sharing is another potential source of funding, for other infrastructure work, Herron said.
Establishing a revenue-sharing agreement for offshore development was one of the projects suggested by AAPC.
Hard to prioritize
Possible projects include the development of an Arctic port; oil and gas exploration; spill-prevention resources; home access to water, sewer and sanitation services in rural communities; reducing power and heating costs; workforce development; and increased research.
Other suggestions in the report include basing more fishing vessels in Alaska; additional exploration and development in the Ambler mining district; and more work mapping the Arctic.
The commission has spent the last two years developing an Arctic policy for the state. Accordring to Lesil McGuire the report purposefully did not prioritize the projects because the 26 commission members had differing ideas about what was most important.