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Voices

TO: The Alaska Permanent Fund SUBJECT: Pick. Click. Whatevs.

Dear Big Pile of Awesome,

We know it’s only been a couple of weeks since we The Concerned last wrote, and we haven’t heard back from you yet, but a new worry cropped up in the interim. Sorry to complicate what has already been a rather busy off-season for you...

Scott Woodham

Last week, the University of Québec at Montréal hosted the two-day “Arctic in Transition: Regional Issues and Geopolitics” conference. My friend, Joël Plouffe, one of the conferences’ main organizers and an expert on geopolitics in the Arctic, let me know that it was taking place. The Centre Jacques Cartier, ArcticNet, and the Northern Research Forum (through the University of the Arctic and the University of Lapland) also helped organize the conference. Its main purpose was to analyze the dynamics of the security issues facing the Arctic....

Mia Bennett

I am perplexed by the lack of industry acknowledgement of Alaska’s vast resources of natural gas.

This omission was clear at the North America Gas Summit in Washington, D.C. I was there as a representative of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority to present the all-Alaska LNG project.

On opening day, there were numerous Power Point slides of different industry presenters, including ExxonMobil, identifying by colored dots on the world map the natural gas resources around the globe.

There were no dots on Alaska. I objected to this error during my presentation...

Bill Walker

The draft Chugach State Park Management Plan has been released for comments. It includes State Parks' proposal to bulldoze a two and one-half mile road from Glen Alps along the south fork of Campbell Creek to a huge parking lot at Upper Huffman...

Barbara Winkley

Supporters and critics alike of Alaska Governor Sean Parnell's proposal to lower oil taxes received mixed news in the form of a recent confidential briefing from oil industry expert Pedro van Meurs.

This past legislative session, Gov. Parnell introduced a bill to lower the tax burden on oil companies operating on Alaska's North Slope in hopes of stimulating more production to offset the twenty-year decline in throughput.

Supporters of the governor's legislation point to declining oil production and loss of jobs due to punitive tax rates that are keeping companies from investing. A number of studies including Wood Mackenzie and the Fraser Institute have placed Alaska near the bottom in terms of global competitiveness when it comes to tax burden...

Andrew Halcro

Recent reports indicate that calling for a wilderness rescue is becoming more frequent among unlucky or unprepared Alaska backcountry travelers who end up in unpleasant, but not deadly, situations...

Scott Woodham,Craig Medred

When Sarah Palin abruptly resigned as Alaska’s governor in July 2009, she said she no longer could be an effective leader. The state was spending “millions of dollars” (it turned out to be closer to a half-million) to knock down bogus ethics complaints against her, bloggers were attacking her baby son, Trig, and a “full-court press” had judged her unfairly. Palin promised that her resignation was for the best for Alaska and America. “(N)o more ‘politics as usual’ and I am taking my fight for what's right - for Alaska - in a new direction,” she said in her speech then...

Amanda Coyne,Tony Hopfinger

The Reverend Al Sharpton and various labor unions have announced a March for Jobs. But I'm afraid we’ll need more than marches to get jobs back.

Since the start of the Great Recession at the end of 2007, America's potential labor force -- that is, working-age people who want jobs -- has grown by over 7 million. But since then, the number of Americans who actually have jobs has shrunk by more than 300,000...

Robert Reich
TO: Alaska’s Economy SUBJECT: The Silicon Valley of resource conflicts

Dear Collective Competition,

You may know this already, but last weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources hosted North America’s largest gathering concerning the development and marketing of what are called “rare earth elements.”

Their name is a bit of a misnomer, though. The minerals are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust, but not often found in concentrated, highly economical deposits like other minerals. They're used in high-tech gadgets, they have military application, and their oxides are used to control air pollution. Plus, demand for them has grown greatly in recent years...

Scott Woodham

My fingers hovered over the smooth keys of my paper-thin MacBook Air as I read the first notice of Steve Jobs’s death Wednesday evening. A second later, my iPhone and iPad lit up like fireflies. As I sat there, staring at the three shiny screens in front of me, my heart instantly ached over the passing of a man I had never met, but I felt knew me.

Many people communicate last wishes about their funerals, but perhaps no person in history has ever shaped the actual death announcement so definitively. Synced across our electronic devices, the moment was beautifully curated, as if Jobs had been designing it, even unintentionally, for years...

John Cary

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