Washington Post: Native Alaskans Raise Their Voice on Arctic Development

September 15, 2015 in Blog

The Washington Post recently covered Shell’s exploration efforts in Alaska and did their readers a great service by highlighting the importance this project holds for many native Alaskans, whose voices have often been overlooked by others.

The current project in the Chukchi Sea is important for many reasons, the most important being its role in securing future energy security for our country, in creating jobs, and in reestablishing America’s past prominence as a leader among Arctic nations. But the Alaskan project is also extremely important to the people who live there.

Native Alaskan Support

Some of the most telling examples of local support come from communities closest to the development. From community leaders across the North Slope to the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), Native Alaskans have voiced their support for Arctic development and have recognized the critical importance of energy development to many of Alaska’s Northern communities.

As Chairman of the ASRC Board Crawford Patkotak states, regarding Native economic investment:

“…we wanted skin in the game and a seat at the table. We wanted to plan for the future of our people.”

Recent economic studies show that America’s Arctic offshore development would create jobs not only in Alaska, but across the country as well – upwards of  55,000 new jobs nationwide.

Quality of Life – Responsible Development

The Alaskan communities that depend upon the sea and the land understand better than anyone else the impact of oil and gas development across the North Slope of Alaska.

According to the Chief Administrative Officer of North Slope Borough, Jacob Adams, Sr.:

Thanks to the property taxes we collect from the oil industry, villages on the North Slope have gone from basically Third World status to modern communities where we enjoy the pleasure of flushing a toilet.”

While energy development in the Arctic has been going on for decades, ASRC put this into perspective in its recent letter to President Obama stating:

We are also no strangers to oil and gas development. The industry has operated safely in our backyard for over four decades producing more than 15 billion barrels of oil from the North Slope in that time. With those barrels come jobs, security and opportunity.

Oil exploration in the Arctic has received, and will continue to receive, much attention, and for good reason: It is critically important to the local people of Alaska and our nation as a whole.