Former state legislator, Yupik activist, and long-time advocate of reshaping the economic paradigm in Alaska's isolated communities, Nels Anderson, Jr. has recently brought attention to the energy crisis in Alaska's bush.
He was in on the ground floor of the growth of political and economic clout for Alaska's First People. His pragmatic approach to problem solving has always caught my attention. He's an iconoclast, and his most recent issue is an example of that.
He has been working on solutions to the energy crisis in the Bristol Bay area that have positive ramifications for every small, isolated Alaska community.
Anderson was one of the few administrators in the Frank Murkowski gubernatorial administration I fully admired. Unfortunately, he was one of the first people Governor Palin sacked, when she took office.
In Juneau, in the aftermath of the avalanches that wiped out part of the Stettisham Dam power corridor, it has been reported that the state and Feds are looking into a disaster declaration on this:
"The 17-member group of commissioners and other state agency representatives met for two hours Wednesday to consider how to soften the blow of what’s expected to be about a 450-percent increase in utility bills next month."
Anderson has written to the Governor about this, hoping that people put the energy cost crisis in Alaska in a wider, more long-range perspective. Nels Anderson, Jr. has agreed to let Progressive Alaska print his letter in full:
April 24, 2008
Governor Sarah Palin
State of Alaska
Juneau, Alaska 99811
Re: Alaska Energy Disaster
Dear Governor Palin:
Many of our villages have been living under more extreme energy conditions than Juneau and no gathering of 17 officials, including commissioners ever met to consider all of the villages of Alaska that are suffering more than Juneau at this time.
Commissioner Notti knows about the costs of electricity in our villages and that many of our villages pay much more than what Juneau is facing. The problem is this: Juneau's "disaster" will disappear in three of four months but ours will continue into the foreseeable future because no one is taking our VILLAGE ENERGY DISASTER seriously.
Our DISASTER consists of high electricity costs after PCE. In addition, we have excessively high fuel costs. We will be paying much more for our gasoline, heating oil, diesel, and aviation fuel, and propane after the first spring barge arrives. Our prices go up in our villages and never go down. Most communities in the Railbelt ride the rise and fall of crude oil prices but our villages don't.
IF you are going to take action for Juneau then you must do the same for all of our villages across Alaska that have been in an energy disaster condition for over 7 years.
We need you to do the following for us:
Declare an energy disaster for all of our villages across the state of Alaska and include that issue in the upcoming special session.
Give Mr. Haagenson, Energy Coordinator, cabinet level status and convert the AEA to the Dept. of Energy
Develop legislation that will create an Alaska Fuel Subsidy that will take our Alaska Royalty Oil and have it refined at Flint Hills or Nikiski and have heating fuel, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and propane delivered to all of communities in Alaska at no more than $3.00 a gallon.
Craft legislation that will reimburse all communities that waive all sales taxes on electricity and fuel.
Push our Congressional delegation to adopt a moratorium on all fuel taxes.
I am hoping that our Rural elected leaders, regional organizations, state-wide organizations will insist that village energy needs be considered along with Juneau. Juneau does have a serious problem but all of our villages do as well.
Please include all of us during the disaster meetings so that we are all treated fairly and equally.
Thank you for listening.
My best personal regards,
Nels Anderson, Jr.
Dillingham, Alaska 99576