Alaska Editorial: Washington state should focus on its own plate

May 5, 2015, Ketchikan Daily News

Having solved virtually every issue in their home jurisdictions, the Seattle City Council and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee are looking north to Alaska.

 

They’ve written formal letters asking U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to revoke federal oil and gas leases with Royal Dutch Shell in the Arctic outer continental shelf (Seattle City Council), and to avoid issuing any further leases in that area off Alaska (Gov. Inslee). The leases are undesirable because they will, in the Washingtonians’ view, contribute to global climate change.

 

Washington’s governor, Seattle City Council and Seattle Mayor Edward Murray also oppose a lease signed by Royal Dutch Shell and Foss Maritime for moorage space in the Seattle area for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet — a lease that’s now the subject of a lawsuit filed by (surprise!) environmental groups.

 

The above information is cited in the Alaska Legislature’s rightful response to Washington state’s latest meddling in Alaska’s economic affairs.

 

In mid-April, the Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 18, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek rebuke to the politicians of the nanny, er, Evergreen, state.

 

“This resolution sends a strong message to Washington state that Alaska will not tolerate its unsolicited interference in the multi-faceted and nationally strategic economic development plan for the Arctic,” Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage said in announcing the passage of SJR18.

 

At its outset, SJR18 notes that Alaska pursued statehood to cease being an economic colony of Washington state or anyone else.

 

Not that Washington state doesn’t continue to benefit mightily from Alaska — the Last Frontier accounts for about 113,000 jobs and approximately $5 billion in annual sales for Washington, according to the resolution.

 

The fun part of SJR18 points out that Washington state has a great opportunity to reduce carbon dioxide emissions right there at home.

 

Closing the Boeing production facilities in Washington state would result in 650 fewer aircraft each year, aircraft that “otherwise would discharge more than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide during the lifetimes of those aircraft and would provide a significant reduction in the release of pollutants into the atmosphere.”

 

Of course, now that Alaska’s Legislature has drawn attention to the Boeing situation, one can be certain that Inslee, Murray and the Seattle City Council are busy writing letters demanding closure of those production facilities.

 

SJR18 also makes it clear that if Seattle doesn’t want to host Shell’s fleet, Alaska will do so, gladly.

 

“The Alaska State Legislature invites Royal Dutch Shell to use a port in this state as the homeport of its Arctic drilling fleet if the lease with the Port of Seattle is terminated,” states SJR18.

 

To that we say, ‘Here, here!”

 

Really. Here — as in Ketchikan. We’ve got a fabulous deep-water port and a maritime infrastructure that just keeps getting better. C’mon on up!

 

The Alaska Legislature was correct to remark on Washington’s meddling. SJR18 makes the right points, and stresses that Alaska has the capability to handle the job-creating situations that Washington apparently doesn’t want.

 

After so many years of Washington state treating Alaska as its junior, it’s not surprising that Washington politicians continue to feel they should weigh in against Alaska’s interests on issues.

 

We, as the Alaska Legislature has done, suggest that the Washingtonians step back, and focus on their own state.

 

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