Authorities in Alaska advocate more oil exploration to help with the growing costs of climate change.
Alaska gets most of its revenues from petroleum taxes and fees, but the state is now feeling the strain due to plummeting oil prices.
RT reports: “We are in a significant fiscal challenge. We have villages that are washing away because of changes in the climate,” Governor Bill Walker, an independent, told the BBC in an interview Monday. To illustrate the point, he brought up a village in northwestern Alaska, threatened by rising water levels and soil erosion.
“I don’t see anyone putting together contribution funds to help move Kivalina,” Walker said. “That is our obligation, we stand by that ‒ we need to figure out how to do that. But those are very expensive. We have about 12 villages in that situation.”
— Alex Doukas (@adoukas) October 13, 2015
Kivalina is located on a barrier island at the entrance to the lagoon where the Kivalina River meets the Chukchi Sea. Of its almost 400 inhabitants, the vast majority are indigenous Alaskans. The Army Corps of Engineers estimated the cost of relocating the village at anywhere between $95 and $125 million, while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate runs as high as $400 million. Alaska is requesting $162.4 million in relief for Kivalina and other villages vulnerable to climate change.
To raise additional revenue, Walker is advocating an increase in oil exploration, eyeing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a vast nature preserve in the northeast Alaska along the Canadian border. Drilling “in a responsible way, as we have in the past” could help relieve the state’s financial strain, the governor told the BBC, adding that it could be done using the “Norway model” of empowering the local communities.