Rep. Sara Rasmussen, the freshman legislator from Anchorage District 22, wrote the Seattle City Council this week to correct the record on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Rasmussen’s letter was in response to the Seattle City Council passing a resolution to stop the Emerald City from doing business with any company that drills in ANWR.
“First and foremost, a large majority of Alaskans from across the political spectrum support drilling in ANWR. This past legislative session, a resolution in support of drilling in ANWR was overwhelmingly passed by the Alaska House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, by a vote of 36-3,” Rasmussen wrote in her role as a member of the House Natural Resource Committee.
Rasmussen added that the Inupiaq living on the North Slope – the area of the state most affected by drilling – support responsible development of resources in ANWR.
“In fact, denying them the right to develop their own land is, in a way, a violation of their economic self- determination. The resolution mentions the Gwich’in and ‘other Alaska Native tribes that live in the region,’ yet completely ignores the Inupiaq’s ownership of the land and support for responsible development,” she wrote.
Rasmussen acknowledged that Seattle has a right to choose which vendors it uses, but she argued that disqualifying vendors for their participation in resource development – an industry that employs and sustains tens of thousands of Alaskans and supports more than 113,000 jobs in the Puget Sound Region – places an undue burden on those who rely on resource development jobs to feed their families.
“I would ask that the Council reconsider its resolution and carefully consider how the City of Seattle can constructively interact with businesses and industries that sustain the people of Alaska,” she wrote.
In fact, the City of Seattle doesn’t actually do any business of note with companies that may drill in the 1002 area of ANWR’s coastal plain. Not directly anyway. But the indirect business interests are completely intertwined between Puget Sound and Alaska.
There are hundreds of businesses that operate out of Seattle and supply dozens of companies working on the North Slope. Companies like Lynden, Alaska Air, and even Amazon, which has become a significant part of the supply chain for Alaska’s business community are based in Seattle and supply goods, services, and workers to the North Slope.
Microsoft products are used all across the oil patch, from company headquarters to the oil field. Then there’s the Cherry Point and Anacortes refineries, where all Alaska crude oil gets refined before it is sent to the Sea-Tac Airport for jet fuel, and to gas stations, where the City of Seattle garbage trucks fill their fuel tanks.