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.
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