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Gov. Walker should reconsider IEP

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May 24

To the editor: I am saddened to observe that the Walker administration appears totally inept. When Gov. Bill Walker was running for governor, he made promises that we would get the air quality problem fixed. He blamed our serious air quality problem on the Parnell administration and said they had studied it to death. So, nearly four year into his term, Gov. Walker wants to continue to study the pollution problem for another five years. He has offered no solution. 

The Anchorage-based Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority was supposed to help get Fairbanks an energy project that would have done us some good. Instead, they’ve wasted years of time and almost $100 million. AIDEA, often represented by board member Gary Wilken, wants the borough gas utility to pay more than $60 million for the Fairbanks Natural Gas and Pentex Corp. What rational person thinks it’s worth that much money, especially if the project abandons gas we can afford, helps pay for connecting it and the air we can safely breathe? AIDEA is not telling the truth when it declared that the energy project was not supposed to fix our air quality problems. Fixing our air quality problem is exactly what it was supposed to do. 

Our smoke pollution problem has made life in Fairbanks intolerable for many senior citizens. I’ve run out of money trying to leave when the air is so bad. The consequences of stroke and heart attacks are devastating, expensive, scary and very stressful. The air may seem good now, but we all know how the many months of smoky air affect our quality of life and our pocketbooks. The costs of my inhalers and doctor visits are more than my fuel bill. 

I urge Gov. Walker to honor his promises and the AIDEA board to reconsider the short- and long-term consequences of the project. Gov. Walker told us he liked local control. But his administration has been dictating to us, and they’ve completely lost sight of what the Interior Energy Project was supposed to do. And we are suffering the consequences all the way around. 

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