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Colleen Hanabusa, while voting no on the latest attempt to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling made this statement:

"I could not support legislation that would essentially open up the entire Coastal Plain of ANWR to oil and gas development. I believe the native people, the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation as well as the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, should have the right to self-determination and the right to decide whether or not they want to develop their own land. If the bill limited development to the native people, I may have voted differently," [emph added]
Again, Hanabusa has it both ways.  No on drilling and Yes on drilling.

In a Honolulu Star Advertiser Piece, Derrick Depledge highlights this difference between Hanabusa's willingness to drill and Sen. Brian Schatz rejection of drilling in the Refuge:

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who replaced Inouye and Akaka last January, strongly oppose oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge. U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is challenging Schatz in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, favors limited drilling so the Inupiat might have the opportunity to economically benefit from their land.
Sen. Schatz had this to say:
"Simply put, it's time for us to move forward with a clean energy economy, not to be more aggressive with drilling for oil.

We have the technology and we're in the process of transforming the American economy to utilize less fossil fuel. In America's history, we've never gone back after designating an area a refuge to allow oil drilling.

And this would do nothing for price. It will not lower today's gasoline prices and won't solve our long-term energy needs."

Hanabusa and the former Sen Inouye both claimed drilling in the Arctic Refuge is self-determination for the indigenous Inupiat.

The Sierra Club and many others argue that preserving the coastal plain will help the Gwich'in, a native tribe that subsists off the Porcupine caribou herd that give birth and nurse in the area slated for drilling.

Do the Inupiaq themselves really want drilling?

Here's what former Hawaii Sierra Club Conservation Chair Lance Holter has to say about the sham of "native people" wanting drilling:

I have been traveling to Alaska to fish and hunt and film for 25 years. I’ve spent time in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and as a guest with the Inupiaq in the village of Kaktovic. Further, Inupiaq, Yupik, Gwich’in and Dena’ian Natives have been my guests at my home here on Maui, and as a result,  I have come to know a completely different story than the [DePledge article].

The Alaska Native corporations are very different from the real village residents in Kaktovic or other Native Villages along the Arctic coastlines.  The corporations, more often than not, represent Big Oil and Gas, and the Board members and their families have conflicts because they are employed by Energy Companies or receive campaign donations from them. Often they live in Seattle or Anchorage or Hawaii and not in the village itself.  

For years now Arctic Villages have been openly fighting big oil money to preserve their culture and way of life by keeping Oil polluters off their lands .  A petition in Kaktovic shows the majority of residents there don’t want oil development.

Also, resolutions from the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council and most of the significant Native Inupiaq Villages along the Beaufort Sea and into the Chuckchi sea such as Point Hope are solidly against oil drilling and off shore oil development .

The villages are fearful that off shore oil development will permanently pollute and destroy their land and oceans, their subsistence and culture.  Oil development is not the Inupiaq culture for they are people who subsist from the sea."

Holter goes on with some harsh words for Rep Hanabusa's position supporting oil drilling:
Congresswoman Hanabusa should know better than defend Oil companies and oil development at the expense of Indigenous people and their thousands of years old way of life.
Holter gives us a look at the oil money flowing into Alaska politics in proportion to the oil flowing out.
This argument that the Inupiaq want drilling for income is the same tired old story used by the Bush/Cheney Administration back in 2005 with their attempt to drill in the Arctic.

The facts are that it really isn’t known what estimated amount the oil in the ground there is but if amounts can be bumped up then the main impetus to go offshore and drill in the Beaufort sea can be argued.

Recent failures with Shell oil in their attempts to move an experimental platform into the Arctic sea ended in disaster.

There is no current technology to offer a competent clean up response should a blow out occur such as in the BP Oil disaster in the Gulf. Imagine if there were a incident during a 60 below zero weather event and the arctic ice was in full winter expanse.

 Finally, Sen Begich, a Democrat in Alaska, would be unelectable ( or any Alaskan politician for that matter) if he came out publicly for wilderness in area 1002 of the Refuge. He is in a hotly contested election 2014. Huge outside money is flowing to that election from Petroleum/Gas  Developers , such as a recent Ad funded by the Koch Brothers and Americans For Prosperity featuring an actress from Maryland pretending to be Alaskan. Fighting against wilderness status in the Refuge is a political survival statement in Conservative Republican Alaska because Alaskan’s count on their yearly check from the North Slope’s oil  Permanent fund.

Holter continues with a plea not to use the divisive topic of oil and the pretense of indigenous support for drilling to play into the hands of Big Oil.
Drilling the last great pristine ecosystem left in North America for a tiny minute amount of oil that will have no effect on solving Americas energy problem is foolhardy, when what America needs is a renewable energy solution from the sun and wind and inventive technology. Most of all don’t use the  Inupiaq as a wedge between Alaska’s and Hawaii’s Indigenous peoples, because the facts prove other wise.
Ironically Hanabusa is trying to position herself as pro-environment while at the same time courting Big Oil by offering up ANWR to drilling.  This may explain why her touted good score from League of Conservation Voters didn't lead to an endorsement.  In fact, League of Conservation Voters is currently running TV ads for Sen Brian Schatz.

From Wikipedia:

ANWR comprises 19,000,000 acres (77,000 km2) of the north Alaskan coast. The land is situated between the Beaufort Sea to the north, Brooks Range to the south, and Prudhoe Bay to the west. It is the largest protected wilderness in the United States and was created by Congress under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Section 1002 of that act deferred a decision on the management of oil and gas exploration and development of 1,500,000 acres (6.1×109 m2) in the coastal plain, known as the "1002 area". The controversy surrounds drilling for oil in this subsection of ANWR.

Much of the debate over whether to drill in the 1002 area of ANWR rests on the amount of economically recoverable oil, as it relates to world oil markets, weighed against the potential harm oil exploration might have upon the natural wildlife, in particular the calving ground of the Porcupine caribou.

The Sierra Club has this to say:

Even as much of Alaska's wilderness already feels the heat of global warming impacts, the push to drill for oil is mounting and mine for coal is mounting. It is irresponsible to create additional sources of global warming pollution -- from oil development in the Arctic Ocean to coal mining in the foothills of the Brooks Range mountains -- in these wild places.

 To understand what's at stake, one need only look as far as the Prudhoe Bay oil fields -- one of the world's largest industrial complexes. Hundreds of spills involving tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil and other petroleum products occur annually. Decades-old diesel spill sites still show little vegetation re-growth. Gravel fill, excavation, and waste disposal alone have destroyed 17,000 acres of wildlife and marine habitat. A similar fate awaits the coastal plain, the special areas of the Western Arctic, and the Polar Bear Seas if the oil companies and their allies have their way.

1:22 PM PT: UPDATE: After Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters endorsed Sen Brian Schatz, Hanabusa in a fit a pique said:

"We know that we have to fight for those rights, even if it means getting blasted by environmentalists"

Hello? Colleen.  Perhaps this is why environmental organizations have abandoned you.  Maybe you are too hard-headed to listen.

Originally posted to Karen from Maui on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.


Drill in the Arctic Refuge?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Any direct quotes from the Inupiaq people? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball, ban nock

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:33:43 AM PST

  •   only congress can declare wilderness (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball

    unlike monuments. so instead of wilderness just declare all 19.25 million acres of the ANWR a monument. you achieve the protection you want and gain plausible deniability for the politicians trying to have it both ways.  prudhoe bay used to be the largest oil field in the US but the oil it produces has been declining for years. the permanent Fund in alaska stands at about 40 billion. norway who discovered oil at about the same time has a trust fund of something like 700 billion. the difference obviously is taxation, norway taxes oil production at much higher levels than alaska does. set aside anwr most of the petroleum reserve and the arctic waters out to 200 miles as monuments. if russia and canada want to despoil their arctic waters, well they get stuck with the bill.

  •  How about from the Gwich'in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karen from Maui

    From the Gwich'in Steering Committee:

    When we destroy certain places like these, it never returns.  It's forever gone.  If you do have any heart left for the environment then protect that environment so all species will be saved.

    — Clarence Alexander

    “We are caribou people.  Caribou are not just what we eat; they are who we are.  They are in our stories and songs and the whole way we see the world.  Caribou are our life.  Without caribou we wouldn’t exist”.  ~Sarah James
    The Gwich’in people prepare for the caribou harvests much in the same way that their ancestors did thousands of years ago. When the caribou are late, the general level of anxiety in the village rises and conversations quickly become about where the caribou might be, what condition are they in, and so on.  Imagine if the caribou were never to come at all?

    The Gwich’in call the coastal plain “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins), yet it remains vulnerable to development and has been proposed for oil drilling.

    Another good source of information is the Alaska Wilderness League.

    Diarist is correct in that the Native Corporations are more generally pro-drilling, as they view it as a source of income and jobs.

    Coastal villagers themselves tend to be more anti-drilling, because they fear oil spills on the ocean that would harm subsistence hunting and fishing. The Gwich'in of the Interior are strongly anti-drilling because they fear pipelines and drilling rigs on land that could ruin their way of life and disrupt their main food supply.

    As through this world I've wandered,
    I've seen lots of funny men;
    Some will rob you with a six-gun,
    Some with a fountain pen.
    -- Woody Guthrie

    by Senor Unoball on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:53:07 AM PST

  •  Sen. Schatz /facepalm (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball, ban nock
    In America's history, we've never gone back after designating an area a refuge to allow oil drilling.
    He's got it exactly backwards, Area 1002 was reserved specifically for oil and gas exploration in the  Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act which created the ANWR refuge.
    •  Not exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball

      The bill allowed drilling in ANWR,  IF Congress approved AND an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) said ok.

      In 1987 a treaty was signed with Canada protecting the carabou.

      Just as the bill to allow drilling was going through congress, the Exxon Valdez spill happened and the bill died (along with a whole lot of bird and sea life)

      One bill finally passed congress to allow drilling but Clinton vetoed it.

      Since then none of the bills allowing drilling have passed - even the ones that are attached to defense authorizations etc.

  •  however ANILCA wasnt specific on how long (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karen from Maui, Senor Unoball

    Congress had to allow drilling in that section. frankly that area should be left alone along with the rest of the refuge. refuges offer a lower level of protection than parks and monuments, and anwr should be a monument. its already protected all you are doing is increasing the level of protection and funding for the area. ANILCA's limitation on future monuments in AK to under 5000 acres without congressional Ok, needs to be scrapped state should be able to bar or limit the presidents ability to conserve areas for posterity within its borders. only congress can do that, as the AA states very clearly

  •  Yeah, money talks (0+ / 0-)

    And it talks to everybody - indigenous and otherwise. And it tells them the earth is not worth saving. It's hard to resist the splendors money can buy, but, like they say, you can't eat it, drink it or breathe it.

    "The Alaska Native corporations are very different from the real village residents." Yes, they are.

    Take a look at what's happening in the Tar Sludge Deadzone in Alberta.

    Bronco energy and Bigstone Cree Nation:

    Bronco is looking forward to working shoulder to shoulder with chief Francis Gladue and the Bigstone Cree Nation in developing the considerable untapped oil and gas resources on the Bigstone reserves. Although the joint venture provides Bronco with several years of drilling, Bronco/BCN will collectively pursue the expansion of the land base into Bigstone traditional lands off reserve. This could lead to the potential for drilling on other Northern Alberta aboriginal reserves for the benefit of the BCN and Bronco shareholders.
    And the Fort Mckay Group of Companies
    Fort McKay Group of Companies LP has been providing a variety of services to the Canadian Oil Sands. We currently have long-term contracts in earthworks, logistics, site services, fuel and lube delivery, environmental services and land leasing operations. Our three limited partnerships include Fort McKay Strategic Services LP, Fort McKay Logistics LP and Steep Bank Earth LP.

    muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

    by veritas curat on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:07:45 PM PST

  •  thank you for this (0+ / 0-)

    I've read a lot and am totally opposed to drilling in ANWR, but have never before read much on insights from the native people.  I"m glad that they understand that they need to protect their heritage and pass it down to the coming generations

    sometimes the dragon wins

    by kathy in ga on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 03:19:32 PM PST

  •  I've been there. (0+ / 0-)

    We aren't going to drill there so this is all just Hawaii primary jousting anyway.

    Not in a million years would I trade managment by Fish and Wildlife for the Park service. I just can't figure out a nice way to give my opinion of the Park Service.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 06:50:06 PM PST

  •   Some monuments are managed by the FWS (0+ / 0-)

    so ANWR becoming a monument wouldnt change who runs it. all that would happen is FWS would get more money to run it as a monument than it  currently does  as a refuge. The problem with the park service is that it doesnt have money necessary to manage new monuments let alone the current 401 units in the system. blame congress cutting big chunks out of its budget for that .  if we gave the parks more money the quality of its manage,ent would be much better.  putting parks and fws in the same department- conservation and increasing thier budgets would benefit both wildlife and recreation.  Upgrading all of Alaskas 16 WRs to monuments would simply mean they were now at a higher level of protection and get greater funding, the FWs would still run them.

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