As our state melts and burns, Murkowski is passionate about fossil fuels

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By Zacharie Brown

Updated: 20 a few minutes ago Published: 20 a few minutes ago

Record heat in Anchorage. A record drought causing record wildfires an interior resident compared to a “war zone”. Dangerous smoke as far as Nome a climate expert has called “stunning.” Then, in an “extraordinary weather whiplash,” our state was hit with record-breaking rainfall that flooded homes in Mat-Su. Alaska’s hellish summer has arrived, and this is just a glimpse of the suffering to come, as Alaska heats up twice as fast as the Lower 48. As a hunter, fisherman and lover wild places, I fear every day for our way of life in Alaska. life.

But Senator Lisa Murkowski’s website doesn’t even list climate change among her issues and priorities. In fact, not only is Murkowski seemingly unfazed that a swath of Alaska the size of Connecticut has burned this year, but she is aggressively pouring fuel on our record fires.

Murkowski calls ConocoPhillips’ Willow project – a North Slope oil and gas mega-extraction – his “top priority.” She pumped the project relentlessly, including urging the Interior Department not to extend Willow’s 45-day comment period that fell during Alaskans’ busiest months to raise money and set up subsistence food – so that ConocoPhillips can begin construction this winter.

Why is Murkowski so passionate about a Texas-based company’s fossil fuel project during our deepening climate crisis? She says Willow is “essential to Alaska’s economy.” Indeed, the ConocoPhillips website estimates that Willow will generate $1.3 billion in revenue for the state of Alaska over 30 years – which sounds like a lot, until you realize that firefighting forest loss in Alaska in 2022 alone cost more than $300 million (and that doesn’t include the costs for Alaskans whose lands and homes were burned). By the time Willow oil comes online in six years, Alaska will have already spent our projected revenues suffering from climate damage.

With oil so many years away, Willow will also fail to achieve Murkowski’s other talking points: reducing high gasoline costs or ensuring energy security. But there’s one thing Willow’s go-ahead will certainly achieve: boost ConocoPhillips’ stock price.

According to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan campaign finance and lobbying tracker, Senator Murkowski took nearly $450,000 from the oil and gas industry for her re-election campaign, most of which came from — you guessed it. – from Conoco Phillips.

Of course, Murkowski’s right-wing rival Kelly Tshibaka is no better: a climate change denier vowing to “unleash our full energy potential” and swearing at the Biden administration and – absurdly – Senator Murkowski for their “radical environmental program”. ”

In our new ranking vote, Murkowski is counting on Alaskans like me to see her as the lesser of two evils. She wants a gold star for ‘believing’ in man-made climate change as Alaskans’ homes burn, flood and fall into the sea. But I’m afraid I have a higher bar for my leaders. than recognizing the basic reality. Between the climate and energy policies of Murkowski and Tshibaka, I don’t see an inch of daylight. If Murkowski wants my vote, she has to act.

Murkowski has hinted at climate action before. In a detailed Washington Post opinion co-authored with Sen. Joe Manchin, Murkowski pledged “bipartisan solutions to help tackle climate change.” But his vote against the Cut Inflation Act — which makes massive investments in renewable energy and which, by the way, will make Alaska far more money than Willow — shows that the climate promises of Murkowski are futile. Its promises to ConocoPhillips are binding.

Preferential voting is said to favor “moderate” candidates. But there is nothing moderate about altering the very chemistry of our planet. There’s nothing moderate about jeopardizing our way of life in Alaska – by burning our lands and warming our salmon rivers – so that your corporate donors can benefit.

Until Murkowski does something — anything — about humanity’s greatest crisis, I’ll rank Alaska prop Pat Chesbro No. 1 and leave my No. 2 spot empty.

Zacharie Brown is an Alaskan climatologist and co-director of the Tidelines Institute, a nonprofit education and leadership organization in Southeast Alaska.

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