Saturday, September 13, 2008

Alaska is a Disaster - what is Gov. Sarah Palin doing?

Note that contacts for confirming all the statements in the following article are provided at the end of the article. As always, check everything YOURSELF. For example, when Charles Gibson interviewed Sarah Palin he asked her what the Bush Doctrine is, her answer was incorrect. A Palin supporter who blogs for the LA Times stated that Gibson was wrong since there have been muliple definitions and Gibson only used one definition. The blogger failed to mention that Gibson told Palin, after she guessed wrong, that he was using the definition that existed in September 2002 prior to the Iraq War. In either case Palin guessed and guessed wrong instead of asking Gibson what the Bush Doctrine meant. A candidate's supporters tell lies when the truth will not suffice.

Alaska is a disaster
by Rob Rosenfeld

Rob Rosenfeld has a Masters Degree in International and Sustainable Development and has lived in Homer, Alaska since 1995, working
primarily with rural communities. He is a long time advocate for human
rights and fair distribution of government resources and opportunities.

After 11 years working in rural Alaska , I feel obligated to share my observations regarding the Third World living conditions facing more than 200 rural Native communities, and the State of Alaska 's lack of attention to the many inequities they suffer.

While Governor Palin claims "exemplary leadership" and attempts to become Vice President of the United States , the truth is rural Alaska is a disaster in multiple areas: human health, lack of infrastructure, the environment, and the economy are equal to that of Third World countries. Sarah Palin is a single issue governor who fails to effectively address these critical needs.

Alaska has the highest rates of homelessness per capita in the US , overflowing sewage lagoons in dozens of communities, and no running water in more than 150 villages – that’s 25% of the population without running water.

Governor Palin has demonstrated how out of touch she is20with Alaska while she continues to ignore the needs of the homeless, fails to recognize Third World living conditions in her home state, and ignores climate change victims, polluted waters, village health hazards and unattended military contaminate sites.

Alaska is a barometer for climate change. Access to some remote communities has been cut off, villages are flooding, landfill contents and overflowing sewage lagoons are contaminating communities, and several villages are being forced to pack up and move. Governor Palin says she doesn't believe climate change is caused by humans. Regardless of the cause, she remains unresponsive to the needs of climate change refugees and victims in Alaska .

More than 200 landfills in rural Alaska lack liners to prevent seepage and dozens of sewage lagoons receive annual discharge permits to discharge untreated and untested sewage into Alaska ’s salmon bearing rivers.

Alaska has the highest amount of military contaminant sites in the US with more than 500 sites that require extensive resources to assess, monitor and remediate. Alaska also has the highest rates of cancer per capita in the United States . Governor Palin is silent on this issue and is solely focused on the natural gas pipeline and oil drilling in protected and fragile places.

While Palin asserts that20resource extraction can be done responsibly, North Slope oil extraction has resulted in hundreds of spills and leaks monthly. On her watch, polluters have not been brought to justice and environmental regulations have been relaxed by her controversial appointee to head the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Larry Hartig, Palin’s pick for Commissioner, was the lead lawyer defending Red Dog Mine (owned by Teck Cominco) which is rated as the worst mine in the country for discharging contaminants into the environment. Red Dog Mine is number one on the national Toxic Release Inventory.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has continued to undermine the integrity of the Clean Water Act by ignoring the anti-degradation act, mixing zone laws and making discharge exemptions for oil companies allowing daily oil sludge discharge into the Cook Inlet resulting in
millions of tons of contaminants in Alaska ’s pristine waters.

Palin sued the federal government for trying to protect the polar bear population and, contrary to her rhetoric, she did accept federal dollars for the Bridge to Nowhere.

Alaska has the highest gas prices in the country, exceeding more then $9 per gallon in some villages. Alaska also the highest unemployment in rates in the country as more than 150 villages face 50 to 80 percent rates of unemployment.

Palin does not pay attention to any of the above realities as she fixates on the oil industry and has even created a Renewable Energy Fund that allows for natural gas extraction and coal bed methane; both of which are far from renewable resources and cause considerable environmental degradation.

Beyond the pretty face of Governor Palin rests an unaware, out of touch, rape and pillage resource extractor who is doing the bidding for the leading oil companies in the world while trying to open new areas for oil development.

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Contacts to confirm information:

Janet Levin, Anchorage Homeless Coalition: Homeless facts - 907-272-0235 ()
Gershon Cohen Ph.D- Department of Environmental Conservation Facts - 907-766-3005
Bob Shavelson, Inlet Keeper 907- 235-4068 - 907-299-3277 (sludge discharge validation in the Cook Inlet and Dept. of Environmental Conservation laws being relaxed)
Unemployment rates: Department of Commerce in Alaska / Anchorage
Sewage / Solid issues / Climate Change: Joe Sarcone / EPA Alaska and Alaska Village Safe Water (907) 271-1316 or 907-677-8705
Discharge Permits: Tim Wingerter - Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation / Fairbanks or Anchorage
Pam Miller, Northern Center for the Environment in Fairbanks- Validation on 100's spills and leaks per month
Pam Miller (different than above) - Alaska Community Action on Toxics - Cancer rates and military site validation and information on Red Dog Mine (907)222-7714
Brian Hir sch Ph.D - Energy issues on renewable energy fund 907-299-0268 or 907-235-7164
Deborah Williams - Alaska Climate Change Solutions - 907- 929-9370 or 907-223-1518
(Polar Bear issues, Climate Change emergencies, flooding, villages having to move and village access facts and information

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