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My Turn: Do we really want the fox guarding the hen house?

Posted: January 24, 2012 - 1:02am

While growing up on our Iowa family farm I watched my mother each spring get baby chicks from the hatchery. She tenderly nurtured them with pride as they grew to maturity. She diligently guarded them lest predators, such as fox or mink, slip into the chicken coop to enjoy a delicious chicken dinner. Precautions were taken to minimize such risks.

Alaska has been greatly blessed with abundant yet finite natural resources. Because they will not last forever, stewardship with the long view is required. Alaska’s founding fathers wisely decreed that the natural resources belonged, not to corporations, or a few favored individuals, but to the people of the whole state. Our governor and legislators have the responsibility to be our representatives working with the people in each area to insure these finite resources are carefully developed for the good of all, both today and for those yet unborn.

Today giant companies explore, drill, and extract the oil. Their purpose is to grow bottom-line profits. Safeguards, such as the Alaska Coastal Management allowing partnership at the same table with local indigenous voices, are seen as hindrances to hurried and low-cost development. Therefore they are opposed. The story is told of a proposed coastal development. In mid-winter company and federal scientists made an on-site visit declaring no adverse environmental impact.

The local Native People, living there for centuries and untold generations, said such development would adversely affect the many sea mammals which birth their young at that location each spring. The wisdom of the elders is profound. Local voices must be heard. The Alaska Coastal Management is for that purpose. The giant companies do not own the oil. The present Alaska ACES tax (whereby the tax rate percentage is directly related to price of oil: the higher the price the higher the tax) is part of the operational cost of producing oil in the state. The oil companies want it lowered? Is it any wonder? Are our legislators and governor working for the people of Alaska or for the profits of the giant oil companies?

Do we really want the oil companies to dictate to the state?

Do we really trust the fox to guard the chicken coop?

• Beran, a Juneau resident, personally spent time in rural coastal Alaska in construction and serving the people as a pastor.

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