Sept. 10, 2012
To the editor:
The Alaska Constitution is not something to be changed lightly or to fall victim to partisan politics. The Constitution is not the rules of government or personal conduct but the guidelines that dictate what those rules should be.
There often is valid reason to change constitutions, when the current constitution is standing in the way of the government being able to act benefiting the people. But the constitution should not be changed lightly.
The Alaska Constitution has served the state for more than 50 years with relatively few amendments (only 28). Its durability is because of the wide and broad nature of the document. Instead of picking individual items and narrow ideals, the Constitution paints a broad stroke of what is allowed and what is not, granting the residents’ rights first before giving the government responsibilities.
The political situation in Alaska, focusing on the debate surrounding oil and energy shortages, is not hindered by the Constitution. In fact, Alaska’s landmark section on natural resource conservation (Article 8) is written to ensure that the resources are used responsibly in the best interest of the people.
While it is sometimes unclear what is the best route to ease the strain on residents over energy costs, all sides can agree with the Constitution in that the route taken should be sustainable and benefit the people of the state. While the exact line between sustainable and unsustainable, beneficial and costly, is blurry, no effort to clear it up through a constitutional amendment would be successful.
What might be clear for the natural gas in ANWR will not properly address the natural gas shortages in Cook Inlet or the gold mining in Livengood. Any narrow-minded, short-view amendment to the Constitution undertaken at this point may temporarily alleviate headaches but in the long run will only complicate an already delicate situation.
The Alaska Constitution promotes resource use while mandating a long-term conservation in accordance with the wishes of the citizens. Current politics should focus on finding solutions, not trying to change the guiding document that isn’t prohibiting necessary or advantageous actions.