Editor’s note: This is the fifth of five opinion columns the Clarion will run from the front-runners in the gubernatorial race for the primary election on Aug. 22.
I was born in Alaska four years after statehood. Some of my earliest memories are of dinner table conversations about our new state’s struggle to gain control over its destiny. Whether we were fighting the Seattle-based canned salmon corporations or the benign neglect of the federal territorial authorities in Washington D.C., I remember my parents’ generation standing up for Alaska’s rights. When Big Oil came along, our leaders faced down the industry executives and their lawyers and accountants and demanded a fair share of the oil profits for Alaska, as well as a plan to save some of those profits for future generations in a “permanent fund.”
I was raised on the dream of Alaska that Alaska, not some Outside entity, controls her destiny, her natural resources. I still believe in that dream, though today it is in grave danger.
Governor Frank Murkowski has proposed giving away control over our oil and gas for the next 30-45 years for little more than the hope that Exxon will someday decide to develop our long-warehoused reserves of natural gas.
Too many politicians take money from those same oil interests and seem to serve the industry rather than the public interest. With our fisheries, our timber, our land, and our water, the same thing is happening. Outside corporations with local, rented politicians in tow, seek long-term or perpetual control over what was once Alaskan. Most politicians, maybe a majority, seek to spend rather than protect the permanent fund.
We must be as brave and as smart and as tough as our parents. We need to stand up for Alaska, or we will be unable to look our children in the eye.
I see four things that we must do now this year to take back our state. Clip them out; tape them to the refrigerator; work for them; make them happen.
Vote for the Alaska Gasline Now Act
In November, you will have the chance to make sure we get a gasline in our lifetime. The Alaska Gasline Now initiative makes further delay costly for the oil companies by taxing the big, old gas reserves that have not yet been developed. No new exploration is affected and the oil companies start to get their money back once the pipeline is built.
WARNING: Exxon and Frank Murkowski do not want you to vote for this initiative.
Elect leaders independent of the oil industry
Now more than ever, we need leaders who have never taken oil industry money; who can negotiate for the people, not for their next campaign. Brazenly, Governor Murkowski has Oil CEOs sponsoring his fundraisers. I don’t take oil industry money.
Take back the Point Thompson oil and gas field from Exxon
Exxon has never produced any oil or gas from this huge field and therefore we have not gotten any production or jobs from this lease. If you owned a building and the tenant had not paid rent for 25 years what would you do?
(Did I mention that they have never paid our fishermen for the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill?)
Remember who own the gas, remind your leaders
We Alaskans do, all of us. We hold it in trust for future Alaskans.
Through struggle, the last generation of Alaskans delivered us a state that controls its resources and makes its own decisions. In this election, we will decide whether we pass on to our children a sovereign state, renewed and independent, or an economic colony that has ceded its power to outside corporations and the federal bureaucracy.
As I campaign for governor, the conversations I am having across the state and at my family’s dinner table are all about our struggle to defend Alaska’s rights. Please join me by taking a stand on the four issues above. Let’s make sure our children know how their parents, like their grandparents, stood up and fought to protect Alaska’s freedoms and economic independence.
Eric Croft is a House representative from Anchorage.
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