Alaskans comment on Trump draft proposal to open state waters to oil, gas development

Alaska’s congressional delegation has asked that only three Alaska offshore areas remaining in the leasing plan. (Photo courtesy of The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

Alaska’s congressional delegation has asked that only three Alaska offshore areas remain in the leasing plan. (Photo courtesy of The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

Alaskans gathered in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday night to weigh in on the Trump administration’s proposal to open almost all Alaska waters to oil and gas development.

The Wednesday night meeting was the only opportunity for Alaskans to comment on the draft proposal in person, and many showed up to speak out against it.

Adrienne Titus helped organize a protest outside the meeting.

“When it comes to oil and gas development in our water and on our land, it’s going to highly affect not just our land and our water, but our people, our cultures, who we are — our identity, our food security,” said Titus, who is with the nonprofit Native Movement.

But another group of Alaskans showed up to support more offshore drilling opportunities.

Resource Development Council deputy director Carl Portman says his group doesn’t necessarily want to open up all the areas proposed by the Trump administration.

But Portman sees a lot of economic potential for Alaska in Arctic waters.

“23, 24 billion barrels. That’s huge. But that’s a very long-term prospect,” he said. “But if you have children here in Alaska that want to make Alaska home and raise their children here, then this is something you need to be paying attention to.”

The Interior Department expects to make a final decision on the offshore plan by the end of 2019.

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