Responsible development

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Monday, December 09, 2002

Related Letter:

Both sides love Alaska

I was interested in Mr. Richard Schmitz's comments (Empire, Dec. 5). I can't speak to the film he viewed, not having seen it. But his comments regarding resource development are of interest.

This is Alaska, where virtually everyone favors resource development. The issue is with what Mr. Schmitz terms "responsible development," especially the word "responsible."

Energy companies, like any industry, have as their sole concern the generation of revenue and creation of profit. And extracting resources without regard to the environment is cheaper and so more profitable than extracting while maintaining environmental standards.

Americans over the last generation have had to cough up hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes to mitigate the extreme environmental degradation caused by companies doing whatever it is they do, making their profit and then walking off leaving the taxpayers with the cleaning bill. These are so-called "superfund sites," and some are in Alaska. In some cases the cost has been much higher, measured in Americans sickened and killed by such environmental degradation, which could have been avoided by much cheaper regulation.

The development-at-any-cost crowd in general, and the Republicans in particular, have never demonstrated any commitment to the "responsible" in "responsible resource development." Until they do by their support and funding of tight, common sense and vigorously enforced government oversight, there will always be many moral and otherwise pro-development people with serious reservations about allowing industry free reign to pollute the air and water.

Good-paying jobs are nice. The taxpaying public not having to pay huge clean-up costs for some industry's profit making activities is nicer. And not having loved ones sickened by environmental blight is nicest.

Donald R. Douglas


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