President Barack Obama announced last week a policy that would ban 22 million acres of land and water in Alaska. As you may have guessed, this policy was loved by some and hated by others. Although Alaska only accounts for less than 7% of the US total oil production, and this policy was a lot more lenient than it could have been, many Alaskans have been infuriated by the President’s decision. The policy might seem unfair though as it prevents oil companies from drilling more of their precious “liquid gold,” but President Obama has compensated for their loss in Alaska by opening tens of millions of acres in the mid-Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. However, as you may have guessed again, Alaskan politicians focused more on what they have lost than gained. They have the right to.
Alaska is in desperate need to develop its oil and gas industry. Countries such as Norway and Russia have sped up development for Arctic drilling this year along with the US and many other countries. More than 90% of the state’s tax revenue is from the TransAlaska Pipeline. Since the halting in production of oil and the recent low cost of each barrel, Alaska has fallen into a $3.5B deficit, forcing it to lower its spending to only $10M per day from its savings.
Read more about the details on President Obama’s policies here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150205-obama-alaska-oil-anwr-arctic-offshore-drilling/
Ultimately, there is always a conflict between environmental sustainability/protection and profit. Both sides offer substantiated arguments, and it is difficult to compare environmental health and hard cash. President Obama’s policy would potentially save the home for thousands of marine animals including Bristol Bay, Alaska’s well-known salmon fishery. In addition, the policy would further protect the walruses and seals of the Chukchi Sea, which the Inupiat residents of North Slope depend on. However, looking at the politician and industrial side, billions of barrels of oil and gas lie in the lands the policy protects. Obtaining and producing this would substantially help the Alaskan economy, as well as the Inupiat residents that depend on oil and gas industry for jobs. Which side of the argument do you vouch for?