Candidates should spend time reading their history

Posted: Friday, August 19, 2005

I highly recommend that every candidate for borough office spend some time in the Kenai Library going through old issues of the Peninsula Clarion. It is fast reading from microfilm.

In 1982, I ran for the borough assembly. I read the Clarions from the last two weeks before the October election to see just what I had said for certain at the time. I ran on a platform of economic development and pushed hard that the borough should concentrate on the main resource it had — coal. I pointed out that what we needed to do was to commit to coal fired generation of electricity in order to help get the Beluga coal fields developed. If this had happened, Agrium would not have to be begging for natural gas today. And our children would have had good paying jobs for the last 20-plus years and for the foreseeable future.

We did have some forward thinkers in the early 1980s. Another article I came across told of the denial of federal funding for synthetic fuels development using Beluga coal. It was a major effort. Former borough mayor Vince O’Reilly was in the forefront trying to make it happen. Yea, Vince!

Another interesting thing was that pushing for an Alaska gas pipeline from Prudhoe was big news in 1982. The Clarion included an issues question about it to which I responded that based on Lower-48 market conditions and discoveries, a gas pipeline from the North Slope was years away. My prediction was right on the mark. It is 23 years later, and a gas pipeline is still mostly talk.

The saddest news is that it is 23 years later, and we don’t even have talk about developing the Beluga coal fields. This, despite the fact it is the borough’s largest untapped resource, and despite the fact there are new technologies developed in the last 23 years to better utilize the type of coal found at Beluga. If the borough had put as much money and effort into coal development as it has for a two-week winter games event, we could be making real things happen!

There is a treasure trove of local and state information in the past issues of the Clarion just waiting for anyone to learn.

William Phillips


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