Oct. 30, 2012
To the editor:
“It’s our oil.” It’s a catchy slogan with deep roots. When Alaska’s first U.S. senator, Bob Bartlett, stood to address Alaska’s Constitutional Convention in 1955, he stressed the importance of ensuring that Alaska’s natural resource wealth be used for the benefit of Alaskans.
“The story of Alaska natural resources has too often been one of exploitation with very little of the great wealth extracted going to pay for necessary governmental services and for the permanent development of a sound economy for the people,” he said.
He went on to warn about the influx of outside interests that would thrust money and false promises upon the young state. To guard against that, Alaska’s new constitution specified that Alaska’s resources are to be developed for the “maximum benefit of its people” and “reserved to the people for common use.”
Gov. Wally Hickel championed Alaska as an owner state: The people of Alaska own vast amounts of land and the resources beneath it. Therefore, Hickel reasoned, Alaska’s resources should be managed by the state in a manner that benefits all Alaskans, not just a few Outside people or corporations.
Let’s remember their vision for Alaska, and ignore the fear-mongering from the governor and his allies. Our young state is still building much-needed infrastructure, such as roads and railroads, schools and universities, water and sewer systems, airports and docks. We face crushing energy costs and must seek to alleviate them through accessing natural gas, developing hydro and other renewable energy alternatives and making our homes more efficient.
But we can only afford these by being shrewd in how we sell our oil. It’s not going anywhere, and it’s only getting more valuable. Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share provides the framework to ensure that as long as we have oil to sell, there will be buyers. We would be foolish to let Outside corporations con us out of $2 billion per year of our resource wealth.
This election season, please support candidates who understand the significance of Alaska’s constitution and the responsibilities of being an owner state. On Nov. 6, re-elect Joe Thomas and Joe Paskvan to the Alaska state Senate.