COMMENTARY: Stand for Salmon initiative is too extreme

  • Genevieve Schok Jr. (Todd Paris Photographics)

Although our economy is struggling, there are new opportunities on the horizon. At our shop in Fairbanks, Flowline Alaska Inc., we are gearing up for new projects and are excited for the future.

But Ballot Measure 1 threatens new opportunities for our family-owned company and my community here in Fairbanks.

As written, Ballot Measure 1 imposes new regulations that would jeopardize not only new development projects, but also existing ones. And it’s not just mining and oil development.

We’re talking about critical, local infrastructure upgrades that are badly needed in many communities. Roads, dams, wastewater treatment facilities and airports, just to name a few, all require many permits. Whether we’re building, repairing or replacing an existing structure, Ballot Measure 1 will make necessary infrastructure projects cost prohibitive or impossible.

Flowline is focused on oil and gas and jobs for Alaskans. We proudly call Fairbanks home, and we care deeply about what happens here. The fact that Ballot Measure 1 would make it more difficult for our community to grow and prosper is unacceptable.

Alaska has promising economic and employment prospects just within reach: new oil fields, the opening of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and even a natural gas pipeline project. These opportunities provide more than a few jobs; they offer new sources of revenue for the state and local communities, and more money flowing into the Alaska Permanent Fund.

Under Ballot Measure 1, those opportunities could be postponed — possibly forever. Alaska can’t wait any longer for more jobs and new sources of state revenue. Alaska can’t afford to take on new and different regulations when our current ones are viewed with respect by other states.

To embrace an extreme and untested permitting system that risks a shutdown of existing operations and puts new projects in the deep freeze would be self-defeating and not in the best interests of Alaskans who value jobs and a strong economy.

My family has enjoyed many summers catching salmon on the Gulkana River. We want salmon to be protected just like everyone else, but we don’t have to abandon economic growth and job creation in order to protect our fish.

Alaskans work very hard to have both economic development and strong salmon runs. In many cases, development projects have actually enhanced fish habitat. Just look at what Red Dog mine did for Middle Fork Creek. A once uninhabitable river is now a home to fish thanks to mining.

That might be a hard concept for the folks in the Lower 48 who funded this measure to understand, but we do things differently here in Alaska. I’d like to think that means we do it better.

Alaska can enjoy both a good economy and strong salmon protections, but not if we pass Ballot Measure 1.

Please join me in voting “no” on Ballot Measure 1.

Genevieve Schok Jr. works in management at Flowline Alaska, Inc.

07/02/2018 - 3:50pm