Alaska Brief Newsletter–July 2017

Speak out for Alaska, the Arctic and Bristol Bay

Jul 28, 2017
This herd of caribou show what's at stake. We need to speak out for Alaska, the Arctic and Bristol Bay.
When it comes to how our current leaders grapple with the health of Americans and the health of public lands, we have to wonder, just whom do they work for?

When a baker’s dozen of men in Congress make repeated critical decisions about health care behind closed doors, they certainly do not inspire trust. What about a balance of viewpoints or the perspectives of those who are most affected by their decisions?

We need to speak out for Alaska

If these men worked for us, they would set collective health care goals, seek input from experts and communities, and make our health the priority. Instead, the people with the most political power focus on rigid ideologies and special interests that profit from them.

In the soap opera that we call our federal government right now, shifting plot twists toy carelessly with American lives. When masses of people lose access to health care, Americans die. Yet, the proposed health care bills would cut health benefits for poor and hard-working families in order to cut taxes for the rich. The vendetta to wipe out a program that has helped millions of Americans continues.

Our health and that of our lands, waters and communities go hand in hand

Congress’ and the current administration’s disregard for the health of Americans parallels their approach to the environment. Again, ideology and special interests dictate goals–no matter the cost to people, wildlife, habitat, communities, and future generations.

This week, the House Budget Committee slipped a revenue goal into its budget resolution that attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. What does the budget have to do with drilling in the Arctic Refuge?

Good question. By using the budget reconciliation process, Congress makes it nearly impossible to see what they’re doing and just as difficult to stop. In other words, they can bury the real stories of the Arctic Refuge’s worth in a process that lacks transparency, public input and legislative debate.

Our leaders should employ the principle, “do no harm,” yet harm they do

The Arctic Refuge is pristine, wild land. It nourishes the culture, subsistence, and way of life of the Gwich’in people. It is home to the calving grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the foundation for Gwich’in life.

It further supports an incredible diversity of mammals and migratory birds that rely on the region to survive.  It provides an iconic landscape for all Americans who visit and value pristine wilderness. It offers refuge to living things, large and small.

Our elected leaders–our PUBLIC servants–should operate under the principle of “first do no harm.” Yet, they and the administration are willing to harm iconic public lands to benefit a few. The Party of No says “no” to health care, “no” to public lands left untouched, and “no” to accountability.

Unfortunately, Trustees and many, many other groups and individuals continue to defend the public process and the right to speak out. We need to do that right now and often. We need to tell our leaders that we expect them to work for us and for the benefit of us as a whole.

We need to demand that they open the door, roll up their sleeves, and put the health of Americans and our public lands first.

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Vicki Clark

Executive Director

PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.

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