To the editor: As a 58-year Alaska resident, I’m outraged and deeply saddened at the plan by the state-funded Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to build the Ambler Road across pristine Arctic wilderness and with no respect for the consequences for those lands, the animals that inhabit them, and the Native peoples who depend on them for their subsistence.
Consequences I see for the area if the road is built:
• Interruption of the migratory movements of the Western Caribou Herd, resulting in serious impacts on the subsistence lives of the Inupiat and Athabascan peoples living there.
• Devastation of the unparallelled wilderness landscapes and wildlife and hence of the delicate ecological balance of the area. The Kobuk watershed will be particularly hard hit, especially its salmon and sheefish runs.
Although AIDEA proposed paying for Trilogy’s “private” industrial road by selling bonds, then financing the bonds by charging Trilogy an annual toll for the mine’s lifespan, I believe, as with the Dalton Highway, there would soon be too much pressure from Alaskans to open the road for general use by the public. Then, I ask, where will the money come from to maintain it? With insufficient funds to maintain even the roads we presently have, and with further challenges from climate change, the Ambler Road will become yet another financial noose around our necks.
Worse, for a foreign mining corporation such as Trilogy to even contemplate shipping the copper ore in tens of thousands of immense diesel-powered truckloads from the Kobuk mine more than 400 miles to the railhead in Fairbanks, then send it by railroad to Anchorage to be transshipped by huge freighters overseas to Asia to be smelted and used there to build their cities and military might is akin to insanity. And imagine the colossal amounts of carbon pollution that will be spewed into our atmosphere and onto adjacent wildlands and added to the greenhouse gases that are already warming the planet to catastrophic levels. And with no benefit to Alaska’s treasury because of our pitifully low royalty requirements!
Those involved in what Greta Thunberg called “fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” with no respect for future generations, should heed the remaining words of her speech: “How dare you!”