Alaska, Conocophillips, Sean Spruce discussed on Native America Calling


This is native America calling. I'm Sean spruce. A major oil drilling project proposed for Alaska's north slope promises much needed jobs and revenue for Alaska native people and others in the country's largest state. The willow project by Conoco Phillips could generate a 180,000 barrels of oil a day. It has a support of the Arctic slope regional corporation and all of Alaska's congressional delegation, including the newly elected Alaska native Democrat, Mary peltola. Among the benefits they say is up to $17 billion in revenue, according to the federal bureau of land management. But it's not all about the economic benefits. Critics, including many of the people who live near the proposed drilling site, say the development alone poses very real problems for the fragile ecology of the area, and beyond that the emissions from the oil over the lifetime of the project contributes to the growing problem of climate change that is a very real danger for the Alaskan native residents, watching the thawing permafrost and rising sea levels that are destroying their land homes and subsistence way of life. The Biden administration is set to make a recommendation for or against the project as early as next week. Today we'll hear some of the arguments about what's at stake with the willow project. We also want to hear from you. Can the vast oil reserves in Alaska help guard against the current instability of global energy economics? Or is the cost too high? It is a time to make more investments in alternative energy. Give us a call at one 809 9 6 two 8 four 8 to share your thoughts. That's one 809 9 native. One note of disclosure, ConocoPhillips, the corporation that proposes the willow project is an underwriter for quantic broadcast corporation, Native American callings, parent company. Joining us first from Washington D.C. is a naga rook hark chark. He is the president of the voice of the Arctic a new pit. He is a new act from barrow, Alaska. Nagar, welcome to native America calling. Thank you, Sean. I'm glad to be here. Well, tell us more about the willow project. Why do you support it and why is it good for your people? Thanks for the question. And if I could, I'd start by kind of introducing the organization just to set some context. So the voice of the Arctic, India, the organization that I represent was established in 2015 to advocate on issues important tools because north slope and our constituents are board includes 24 member organizations that represent the indigenous people from the various communities. So city tribes or cities tribes, some of the regional organizations like north slope borough, some of the village corporations from across the slope. So the biggest reason I think we support the willow project is the economic benefit that the development has provided to the region since the 70s when this all kind of kicked off. Has made drastic changes in the lives of the people. We went from third world conditions in the first world conditions. I can remember as a kid when they installed the flush toilet in my house. When we were growing up, I remember folks still going out to lakes to get sea to get Lake ice to be able to provide fresh water. So now we have running water, sewer, we've got police and fire protection in the community about search and rescue services in the communities. You've got a department of wildlife management that helps protect our systems resources. So all of these economic benefits that has enhanced our lives both economically and from a subsistence perspective, providing jobs that folks can afford snowmobiles, ATVs, firearms, ammunition, supplemental food, maybe from grocery stores, all of those things that allow us to live in this more modern world that we've adapted to and adapted very well to and have taken advantage of all those benefits. That's why we support the project. Many of our listeners are down in the lower 48 and many perhaps have maybe never even been to Alaska and don't really understand just what the lifestyle is there and what some of these dynamics are with regard to the oil industry. So if you could help out those listeners and really explain to them and tell them, what is it that they need to understand about this willow project there in Alaska? I guess thing is how the revenue is generated for the communities on the north slope. That's oftentimes lost on folks. So back in the 1970s, the our leaders are past leaders and my mentors utilized the laws that they had in front of them to benefit from the development that was going to take place. How do we maximize the benefit on the development? It's surely going to take place. So they decided to form the north Flo burrow. The north slope borough through the laws have the ability to tax oil infrastructure, that's on the land. That tax that they get provides for all of the services that I mentioned in my during the last question. All of those services. So if that gets turned off, or if we're not allowed to expand, something's got to give at some point from the economic standpoint. The money's not coming in, meanwhile, things are getting seemingly more expensive. Things start to kind of take a turn for the worse as far as that continued maintenance that's required on some of the systems that I mentioned. And so if we're not allowed to continue to benefit economically from the resources that we have available to us, there's a possibility that we may go back in lifestyle over the course of time. Alrighty, okay. Well, thank you for helping us set the tone of today's conversation. I want to bring in our next guest now, who is also joining us from Washington, D.C., doreen, leavitt. She is the director of natural resources for the inupiat community of the Arctic slope, and she's also a tribal member of the inupiat community. And she is a new biak. Doreen.

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