I personally appreciated the state's $1,200 bonus for energy bills and I think it is wonderful that we live in a state that manages its wealth and resources so well that we reap these benefits.
However, that bonus is a short-term Band-Aid on a serious long-term, long-standing problem. An acquaintance of mine recently said that we have an arterial hemorrhage on our hands. I would hope that in the future, rather than our buying and using these Band-Aids, revenue from the sale of our resources could be used to fund a long-term solution.
I would rather see an energy policy that ensures energy price parity for all of Alaska. Why couldn't our 12.5 percent royalty share of petroleum production be used so that energy (propane, diesel, stove oil, natural gas, etc.) would cost the same in Kwethluk as it does in Anchorage?
Alaska's electricity infrastructure is such that we are not connected to a grid of power lines like the rest of the country. Rural Alaska communities rely primarily on diesel electric generators. And we all know the farther up the river or coastline you go, the more expensive petroleum products are. Families are having to choose daily between heating their house or feeding their family.
One way to immediately address this crisis is to purchase the Flint Hills refinery in North Pole. We could pay for it with the royalty oil we currently sell back to Big Oil and then expand the refinery so that it serves all of Alaska. I don't believe in the state running private industry, but in this instance I believe it is absolutely justifiable.
I wholeheartedly believe we need to start solving the energy disaster that we are facing. I don't have all the answers, but I know we need to find a solution before we read about hypothermia victims, before everyone has migrated to the road system or before an emergency relief effort has to be executed by the federal government.
Anna Sattler is Yup'ik Eskimo. Originally from rural Alaska, she now lives in Anchorage.
By ANNA SATTLER