Recently, President Obama visited the state of Alaska for a climate change conference, which included discussions about the controversial Arctic drilling plans some oil and gas companies have.
However, Alaskan representatives have more than climate on their minds.
We’ve spoken before about Senator Lisa Murkowski and her fight for Alaskan energy equality. These issues will be brought before President Obama this month.
You see, because Alaska is so far from the U.S. mainland, usually seen as the lower 48, its energy grids are completely disconnected. They are, in fact, disconnected from each other; Alaska has unpaved, roadless areas about the size of Texas to give you some perspective.
Because of this unique structure, Alaskan representatives believe the U.S. government is not taking the state’s individual needs into consideration.
For example, the sudden glut of oil and subsequent drop in prices have led to a major cut in oil taxes. This is a problem for the northern state whose main source of revenue is those oil taxes.
Standard and Poor’s, a major credit rating agency, downgraded Alaska from stable to negative due to the deficit in the state’s economic structure caused by these kind of federal budget cuts.
What’s more, the state depends on the natural resources of the land, from oil and natural gas to hydropower from rivers and oceans. And this dependence means there must be a balance between exploration and safety.
Spokeswoman for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation says, “Our people have lived here for thousands of years and have found a balance between responsible development and environmental stewardship.”
Alaska was also one of the most dependent on federal funding in 2013, beat out only Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The state needs federal assistance in working toward its own economic stability, a facet of the climate discussions due to the state’s reliance on natural resources.
But there’s a political twist as well…
Alaska is also home to several military bases, but the government has announced the reduction of military personnel by more than 2,000 people this year. This will cut federal ties with the state even further.
What’s more, Alaska is seen as the front line in U.S.-Russia disagreements—the Russian coast can be seen from some parts of Alaska. The state’s security is at risk if the federal government continues to ignore the state’s needs.
Whether the talks this month are focused on climate change or political stability, President Obama has plenty of work to do on making Alaska more equal to the lower 48 states in the federal eye.
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Until next time,
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