Although most Alaskans support opening ANWR, they can and do disagree about the issue. But there are ways to frame the discussion that avoid personal attacks.
Unfortunately for the Capital City, Richard Steele stepped way out of bounds in his Aug. 7 assault on Lew Williams Jr.'s pro-ANWR position. Mr. Steele did not simply disagree with Mr. Williams' opinions. Instead, he personalized his criticism of one of Juneau's staunchest allies in Southeast Alaska.
Certainly, Mr. Steele is entitled to his point of view about oil development, but he does a grave disservice to our community and our state by suggesting that Mr. Williams' motives are related purely to "the almighty dollar." Lew Williams Jr.'s lengthy and generous record of service to Alaska and the Southeast region proves he has more concern for Alaskans' welfare than Mr. Steele could ever hope to demonstrate.
It is inconceivable to Mr. Steele that some of us actually care about Alaska yet believe that oil can be safely and efficiently extracted from a three-square mile footprint within ANWR's 30,000-square-mile area. As a local teacher, surely Mr. Steele knows that Alaska comprises 586,412 square miles. He preaches that we must sacrifice by walking more and traveling less to conserve fuel. But he is unwilling to utilize three square miles of tundra to help provide energy security for America and give Alaska the means to continue supporting its families and paying its teachers.
If Mr. Steele is representative of Juneau residents and this line of attack continues then he may just get more than he is hoping for: ANWR kept forever in "pristine" condition but Juneau abandoned by the Legislature and returned to its original park-like condition. It doesn't get any more "pristine" than that.