In his recent commentary, Rick Whitbeck repeats the familiar Alaska erstwhile developer’s whine: Alaskans should be “allowed to utilize our own land as we please, without interference from the Lower 48.” He moans about examples of the “counterproductive” efforts by “politicians in Washington, D.C., to limit the rights of Alaskans.” He cites a proposed ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic and Outside efforts to curtail “responsible development” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
His examples of “our (Alaskans’) own land” are simply wrong. Both the Arctic offshore and ANWR are federally-owned properties. These are not lands over which Alaskans have any exclusive ownership or unique control. The federal, national interest in these areas involves the legitimate concerns and actions of politicians from, yes, “Rhode Island and Maine” — as well as from every other state in our country.
At least Mr. Whitbeck is consistent with most of those who have preceded him since the early days of statehood, riding the pro-development, anti-environment “states’ rights” bandwagon with no thought as to who actually owns most of the land that they want to develop, and avoiding any serious weighing of negative and irreversible environmental consequences. They really don’t care who owns the land, or who has a legitimate stake in its use and/or protection. It is simply “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” as it has been since statehood in 1959. These whining pleas have long since worn pretty thin.
— T. E. Meacham
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