Chuitna mine threatens Alaska way of life
My name is Jode Sparks, and I am a 16-year old from Sterling. To many, the Kenai Peninsula is meaningless without fish. I live here, so the Peninsula means a little bit more than that to me, but I understand how important the salmon are. ourism is by far the most important facet of our economy, and fishing contributes greatly to that. Our grocery stores only have sales tax during fishing season because the majority of business happens during that time. Without the lure of great fishing, the Kenai Peninsula would have a far less dynamic economy. In addition to its economic benefit, salmon fishing on the Kenai contributes to its cultural identity. From Alaska Native subsistence fishing to school kids spending the weekend on the river, fishing is an inherent part of life on the Peninsula. I understand the economic, environmental and cultural importance of Alaskan salmon, and I’m disheartened by the constant threats we have had to deal with to our salmon streams.
For the past 4 months I’ve been working on informing Alaskans about the Chuitna mine and mobilizing opposition statewide. The proposed Chuitna coal mine would strip nearly 14 miles of salmon habitat, causing irreparable damage that would directly impact the community members of my home on the Kenai Peninsula. The mine would deprive the entire village of Tyonek of their ancestral and economically vital fishing streams. Additionally, toxic byproducts from the mine would be flushed into the inlet and into our community, directly affecting the health of our fish by contaminating the land we inhabit. The approval of the Chuitna mine would also set a dangerous precedent for development in Alaska, giving priority to outside companies over renewable resources and economic mainstays like salmon and tourism. I support responsible resource development in Alaska, but this mine is not right for our communities or our state. We need laws that put salmon first, and that allow Alaskan citizens to be a part of the decision making. That’s why I was glad to read the Clarion Editorial Board’s piece on how they also support policies that will update our salmon habitat protections. The health of the Kenai Peninsula’s economy, people, and way of life depends on the health of our salmon, and revising our laws to reflect salmon’s importance will ensure we have wild salmon for generations to come. I want to thank the Clarion Editorial Board for supporting regulations that protect our fish and hold developers responsible for their actions. This is a great first step, and I hope other Alaskans will add their voice to the conversation to ensure Alaska’s environment is healthy for generations to come.
Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) is an organization made up of activists from all around the state working to preserve Alaska’s pristine beauty and vibrant cultures.
Public bank good for Alaska
Last October the good folks in the Kenai Borough approved creation of two new pieces of paper called a bond for infrastructure projects.
One bond issuance for a new cell at the Central Peninsula Landfill and the other a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at South Peninsula Hospital (borough owned) in Homer.
Once issued, the bond will be sold to a private bank who will create new money called debt. As always debt brings interest and the people pay and pay and pay again. Taxes lost to useless interest payments.
If, we the people, want to build infrastructure and can create a Bond, why don’t we create new money called credit. Interest free money for improvements in our community.
One year ago, the City of Santa Fe did a study on just that idea. They found they could save $24 million dollars over 7 years. Millions in savings and a reduction in taxes. (http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org/santa_fe_report_public_bank_will_save_money)
As Juneau politicians fight over taxes let’s give them some direction. Washington has expanded debt in the trillions of dollars and the people pay. Newly created debt money, little of which was directed to the productive part of our economy, infrastructure. Money creation is not the problem. It is what the new money is used for. Lets create a public Bank of Alaska and create the credit needed to expand our economy in productive ways. Creating jobs and reducing taxes through
infrastructure projects. A public Bank of Alaska for Alaska’s Economic Future.
Make national park infrastructure a priority
National parks across the country face the challenge of declining budgets, and have more than $12 billion in needed infrastructure repairs across the country. In Alaska, Denali National Park has over $50 million in infrastructure backlog repair needs, while the Kenai’s own Kenai Fjords has $4 million in repair needs. Parks that don’t have the money to provide a good visitor experience are ultimately parks that will begin to lose traffic—hurting Alaska. As a local business owner with operations on the Kenai River and on an inholding within the Kenai Fjords National Park, this issue concerns me. Alaska’s national parks are an important draw for my business, and a big economic boon to Alaska’s economy. Last year, 2.7 million people visited national parks in Alaska and spent $1.2 billion in our state. Senator Murkowski began to address this problem last year by passing the National Park Service Centennial Act, which provides for public/private funding partnerships in parks and fosters volunteer opportunities for young people. It is a step in the right direction and she deserves our thanks. We will soon have a new Presidential Administration that has expressed a commitment to infrastructure repairs. I urge our Congressional delegation to make funding our national parks’ infrastructure a priority so our parks in Alaska have the resources they need. It makes very good sense for Alaska businesses.
Kirk Hoessle, President, Alaska Wildland Adventures