Voices of the Peninsula: Ambler road project threatens Alaska wild

I propose that this road not be built, certainly not on the State’s dime.

  • Monday, May 11, 2020 10:13pm
  • Opinion

In the May 10 edition of the Peninsula Clarion, Corri A. Feige, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, submitted an opinion on what was titled the “A stable economic future follows the Ambler Road.” For those unfamiliar with the road to the Ambler Mining District, the AIDEA (Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority) proposes to fund the planning, studies, securing rights of access across federal, state, Native and private lands, building and maintenance of the 211-mile road.

The article contained many facts including historical perspective, comparison to the Red Dog mine and projected employment and economic results in gross dollars. Indeed, the commentary conveyed the author’s stated intent.

Demands for scrutiny caused my further review.

Citing that the road would be closed to the general public, it “would allow deliveries of commercial goods to local communities and access for emergency responders.” (I presume the emergency response would also be to local communities.) There are three communities, each within 10 to 15 miles from the proposed road: Shungnak, Bettles and Kobuk. Shuttling commercial goods to those communities would be restricted to winter only as would emergency response. I guess 50% of the year makes this road agreeable.

Another rather stupendous, and not in a positive way, comment is “Without the Ambler road, those minerals would remain stranded in the ground.” This comment is preposterous on the face of it!

The largest omission is that nowhere does the Commissioner Feige even slightly mention that the beneficiaries of this road is NOT Alaska, nor the United States, but a Canadian partnership. We’ll facilitate a foreign entity’s profiteering off of our resources!

I propose that this road not be built, certainly not on the State’s dime. If the mining company is so convinced of the benefit of this mine, let them build their own road. But even better than that, no one should build this road. The alternative, tried and true, would be to build a runway long enough to accommodate C 130 Hercules aircraft. Haul in the buildings, the mining rigs, the personnel, the supplies and haul the minerals out. Happens every day of the world.

And the State avoids another possible AIDEA boondoggle plus maintains our beautiful wild lands and pristine rivers.

When I first arrived in the state, in the early ’70s, I lived in Nome. A friend took me flying one night and said enthusiastically “Look at that!” Straining to see something really special and failing, I asked what I was looking for. His comment thrills me to this day. “Miles and miles of NOTHING but miles and miles” was all he said. Let’s keep it that way.

— Sherry Lewis,


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