Two recent letters to the editor printed in the Peninsula Clarion got my attention.
On Wednesday, you printed a letter from Don Johnson critical of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, suggesting that recent appointees have not been “intelligent and good Alaskans,” and have a “special/conflict of interest.”
While Mr. Johnson is not specific, I would take it to mean that he feels that his own “special/conflict of interest,” the commercial sport fishery guiding industry, is being slighted in favor of the remainder of the commercial fishing industry. Most Alaskans are aware that many of the fishing guides on the Kenai River are not full-year residents. These folks should, if they are truly concerned about the welfare of the resource, be working for habitat protection and good fisheries management, and not taking actions such as trying to shut down the Cook Inlet set net fishery which has historically supported many families in this area so as to give their own industry a greater portion of the salmon that enter Cook Inlet.
In Friday’s Clarion, a letter from Neil Robinson points out that Alaska’s Congressional delegation is acting unrealistically in attempting to get oil sales within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Their posturing is getting pretty old, in my opinion. Alaskans should understand that the Arctic Refuge (or “ANWR”, as it is commonly called) is federal land, and is a wildlife refuge. Oil and gas leasing can take place within wildlife refuges, if the Department of the Interior determines that this is not in conflict with the purpose for which that refuge was created; within the Arctic Refuge this has not happened, and is not likely to. It should be remembered that even back when we had a Republican President, George W. Bush, and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, the ANWR was not opened to oil and gas leasing.
That President Obama has chosen to nominate portions of the Refuge for wilderness status is entirely within his rights; of course, I don’t expect this Congress will go along with that decision, but neither can Congress open the Refuge to oil and gas leasing on its own.
Alaskans should inform themselves of the facts. Wishful thinking doesn’t accomplish anything. The facts are what they are, and no matter how much they may wish to, Alaskans can’t change them just by claiming they aren’t what they are.