The effects of pain killers in our village

I am writing this letter concerning the health care given to our village. Too many people are being put on narcotics/pain killers/opioids for unnecessary ailments. These meds are distributed haphazardly. Most are then siphoned off by under medicating them and therefore causing withdrawal symptoms.

What they are not being told and warned before the prescriptions are doled out is that their lives are going to be turned upside down; that their feelings, emotions, for family and life itself are going to be altered for as long as they are on them. That their love and affections are going to be frozen into a brick, like a memory.

The health care system gives these pills out so the patient will be or feel totally dependent on the word of the health care system, like taking the form of some deity. These patients are under medicated, and this is a form of abuse in itself.

They try to control what these patients take to make up for the meds they aren’t prescribing, AFTER THE FACT THAT THEY GOT THEM HOOKED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

This is like a form of dictatorship right under our own Yup’ik noses. This health care system is here to serve us, not to make followers or zealots out of us. And it doesn’t help these patients when they are being treated like illiterates. Some even take advantage of this to make big decisions for them. Our people are a strong people and we should be treated accordingly.

Kayleen Mesak

Kipnuk, AK


Hello ladies and gentlemen, I hope you all had a very good holiday this past season. We come today in a new year with a new president of the United States of America, with new hope for a better future.

My hope for our people of the YDFDA region is for something better and fairness for our people. What I have been writing about before is true from my experience while employed in many places of the Kwikpak company. One of the most worrisome problems I see is these people whose job is to help our people get better opportunities or learn new trades, not fulfilling the duty so that they will continue to get the high wages with less work.

YDFDA is owned by these said villages: Alakanuk, Nunam Iqua, Emmonak, Kotlik, Mtn. Village and Grayling, not those who are claiming to be bosses of our people and youth who work there. The others are claiming this company because of the generous money. Yes money – that’s what they see – our people and communities as free money to make for themselves.

I want to show you what I see because money is a source that can blind you or manipulate you if you do not open your heart and truth. I don’t know if I told you this story before but I want to say it again. There’s the gentleman from Grayling, I think he’s about my age and comes down here to Emmonak every season. I asked him how many people from his village come to work here. He said three. Three people from Grayling! Can you believe that, only three?

I wonder if the people from Grayling know they are part owners of YDFDA and Kwikpak and YRT and any other boats or facilities that bear the YDFDA names. In fact, do all the villages know they have the voices to make the changes? If they just tell their representatives of the YDFDA BOD, to make the change.

Maybe people been saying it but the BOD are too scared to make the changes. I think not. Money talks baloney walks. Take away the money you’ll see who walks. Our people deserve better than what is put on the table now. Our youth deserve better. We can do better for our people and communities.

I hope you all a very safe and prosperous New Year and hope your smokehouses fill with our precious resources coming this summer.

Marvin Kelly

Emmonak resident and fisherman of the mighty Yukon River

We are Listening to Alaskans, Past and Present, to Preserve Alaska’s Future

While the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) has been around since 1967, it is true we’re not exactly a household name. However, AIDEA recently gained attention when it was identified as the successful bidder for multiple tracts in the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s recent oil and gas lease sale.

These tracts are located within the Section 1002 Area designated under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). We wanted to take this opportunity to provide some additional perspective on AIDEA and the opportunity presented by the Section 1002 Area lease sale.

What is AIDEA?

AIDEA is a unique entity within the state, formed by Alaska’s Legislature as a public corporation and managed by an independent board, with a mission to create jobs and spur economic development in Alaska. Since inception, we have directed over $3 billion into economic development within the state through our loan and project development programs, resulting in tangible benefits for Alaskans. AIDEA generates revenue based on successful investments in Alaska’s businesses and infrastructure that yield a positive return, which in turn covers our operating costs and provides for reinvestment in Alaskans. In fact, AIDEA has declared over $439 million in dividends to the state’s general fund, helping to support programs and services offered through the State such as healthcare, education, and public safety.

As we continue to navigate this new economic landscape created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial that we as an economic development corporation have as many tools available to us as possible to promote Alaska’s economic interests. This includes preserving Alaska’s ability to access and responsibly develop its abundant natural resources, which is why AIDEA participated in the 1002 Area lease sale.

Forty Years of Alaskan Support for the Responsible Development of the 1002 Area

Responsible resource development in the 1002 Area has been part of Alaska’s public discourse for over 40 years. When President Carter signed ANILCA in 1980, it not only expanded the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from 8.9 million acres to 19.3 million acres, but also expressly set aside 1.5 million acres (known as the 1002 Area) for evaluation of its oil and gas development potential which has the estimated potential to add upwards of 1.4 million barrels per day to Alaska’s production.

Section 1002 was endowed within ANILCA by Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young for the economic benefit of all Alaskans as codified access to Alaska’s natural resources. Alaska will receive half of all proceeds earned through the 1002 Area lease sale, as well as half of the fixed royalty of 16.67% on any production. But Alaska also stands to benefit from the injection of new production in enhancing North Slope infrastructure and keeping the Trans-Alaska Pipeline running and operating efficiently.

It is important to remember that there has been consistent and vocal support for responsible development of the 1002 Area from a cross-section of Alaskans, including all members of Alaska’s congressional delegation since 1980, Alaska’s Legislature with supporting resolutions passed in each session since 1997, and Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy, as well as the majority of North Slope Tribal and Village leadership.

Alaskans know that the Native Village of Kaktovik is the only federally-recognized community in the 1002 Area. They, along with more than 20 other Alaska Native organizations and corporations located in and around the 1002 Area have advocated for responsible development of the oil and gas on the North Slope. These include:

Native Village of Kaktovik, Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, City of Kaktovik, North Slope Borough, Arctic Slope Native Association, City of Anaktuvuk Pass, City of Point Hope, Native Village of Atqasuk, Olgoonik Corporation, City of Atqasuk, City of Wainwright, Native Village of Point Lay, Tikigaq Corporation, Atqasuk Corporation, City of Utqiaġvik, Iḷisaġvik College, Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, Nunamiut Corporation, Native Village of Point Hope, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Wainwright Tribal Council, Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Native Village of Barrow, and North Slope Borough School District.

Much of the economic development and jobs supported across our North Slope communities has resulted from the responsible development of Alaska’s oil and gas resources. Public funding from taxes on oil and gas infrastructure has significantly contributed to economic security within these communities and provided revenue to fund local services, schools, health clinics, housing, emergency response, water and wastewater, heat and electric utilities, and countless essential services. We do not speak for these groups or individuals, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight their voice and echo their support.

What does Alaska mean by responsible development?

Of the 1.5 million acres designated within the 1002 Area for its oil and gas potential, the BLM has stipulated that only a maximum of 2,000 acres, or roughly 3 square miles, can be used for surface infrastructure development. This means that any surface development footprint for oil and gas operations is already mandated to be less than .001% of the 1002 Area. All other acreage will continue to be managed as habitat and closely monitored. The lease stipulations include a long list of required operating procedures which incorporate extensive pre-planning and authorizations prior to any operations. These also include protections for wildlife, subsistence access and the required coordination with Alaska’s native communities on subsistence use.

To those who question whether any development can be done responsibly, we ask you to reflect on the past 50 years of oil and gas development in Alaska’s arctic since the discovery of oil and gas in Prudhoe Bay. During this time, the oil industry established the backbone of Alaska’s economy, directly and indirectly created tens of thousands of jobs, and saw the Central Arctic Caribou Herd grow from roughly 5,000 in 1978 to approximately 30,000 in 2019, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Since 1970, technological advances in drilling and production have seen the surface footprint of development pads reduce by a factor of 5. What used to take a 65-acre pad to produce just 3-square miles of reservoir, now uses just a 12-acre pad area to produce over 100 square miles of reservoir. This incredible advancement in technology has been matched by world-class environmental stewardship and the development of new technologies that help protect the tundra, rivers, lakes and wildlife of Alaska’s precious arctic ecosystem.

The experiences of the past 50 years have established a track record of success exploring for and producing oil and gas in the harshest conditions, living up to the standards demanded by the most rigorous environmental protection laws in the world. Oil production in Alaska is cleaner and safer than anywhere else, and oil produced from leased acreage in the 1002 Area will be no different.

Alan Weitzner, Executive Director, AIDEA

Corri Feige, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Murkowski helps advance clean energy in Alaska, Nationwide

Energy is a critical economic driver for Alaska. Innovations in clean energy in particular are helping secure a more sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy future for all Alaskans. From increasing development of renewable energies to investing in energy efficiency and grid technologies, modernizing Alaska’s energy infrastructure will help power a stronger economy.

That is why it was so encouraging to see Congress pass the Energy Act of 2020 as part of the omnibus spending bill that was signed into law late last year. Representing the first major clean energy innovation package passed by Congress in more than a decade, the Energy Act of 2020 will invest in clean energy, grid modernization, battery storage, and more.

Alaskans should be thankful to have a leader like Senator Murkowski representing our interests in Washington, D.C. She not only helped lead the effort to include the Energy Act of 2020 in the omnibus bill but was also responsible for around 10 provisions within the legislation. By working to advance bipartisan, commonsense energy solutions, Senator Murkowski is helping Alaska’s energy industry continue to find innovative ways to meet our state’s unique energy needs.

While passage of the Energy Act of 2020 was critical, there is still much work to be done to strengthen and modernize our energy infrastructure—here in Alaska and in the lower 48. Senator Murkowski’s leadership and support of Alaska’s energy industry should serve as a model for Alaska’s entire congressional delegation.

Gwen Holdmann, Director

Alaska Center for Energy and Power

University of Alaska Fairbanks

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