This fall, when you take your kids to overcrowded, underfunded schools, think about the money local government says it does not have for you. When you bounce along our potholed roads, think instead about the Ambler Road and the bulldozers of public money inching their way toward the Brooks Range and a proposal you would not be allowed to drive on. Think about your local representatives and Gov. Bill Walker this election season, holding up an empty hand to you and a shovelful of corporate welfare money in the other, and exercise your right to hold them accountable.
Gov. Walker promised to retire the Ambler Road proposal after scoping in his campaign rhetoric four years ago.
The state has funded the proposal to date, so that a Canadian mining company does not have to reduce shareholder value to pay for the road themselves. It is what the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority calls a public-private partnership. Sit in on a few dozen of their meetings and you will learn this actually means your public dollars are being spent to enhance private profit. The mining companies admit they could pay for the road themselves; it has been done with success in the past. But this time, a 200-mile road is too much for them to overcome. As an added bonus, any catastrophic environmental damage will be the responsibility of the state of Alaska when the mining companies declare bankruptcy and return to Canada.
Mining development has a history of dodging its fair share. In 2015, the Northwest Arctic Borough was forced to spend taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit against Teck, owners of the Red Dog Mine, in order to even receive payment in lieu of taxes for the mine on their lands. The mining company did not willingly pay for use of the land, despite grossing $5.2 billion in 2015.
Gov. Walker may be ready to write the next great chapter for the Great Land, but he needs a proofreader, and that person is you.
— John Gaedeke
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