The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Alaskans for Jobs and Affordable Energy

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 1, 2009

They wore hardhats and fluorescent orange safety vests, and their message was clear. These workers who demonstrated at yesterday's Energy Citizens rally in Anchorage, Alaska, want affordable energy and jobs.

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These men and women are laborers and truckers who say they're worried about the potential impact of the Waxman-Markey climate bill. A new study shows the bill could have a particularly negative impact on Alaska, eliminating thousands of jobs and causing a financial burden on each household amounting to about $325 a month by 2030. They were joined at the Energy Citizens rally yesterday by seniors, veterans, energy workers and homemakers who want the U.S. Senate to reject the Waxman-Markey bill and craft something better.

Some of the truckers at the rally were from Carlile Transportation Systems, the company that is known for hauling supplies and equipment to remote locations throughout Alaska, some of them accessible only by ice roads. Carlile's truckers have been profiled by Discovery Channel's "Ice Road Truckers" television series.

Linda Leary of Carlile told the crowd of almost 300 that Congress should focus on creating opportunities, not passing laws that could harm the state. She said elected officials in Washington should support the construction of the Alaskan natural gas pipeline to transport the cleaning-burning fuel to the lower 48 states and to create jobs. Other speakers added that the nation should be reaping the benefits of drilling for more of its own oil and natural gas on the Outer Continental Shelf.

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Tara Sweeney of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation noted that Alaskans pay the highest energy bills in the country and warned that the Waxman-Markey bill could increase energy costs. According to AAA, the average price of gasoline in Alaska on Aug. 31 was $3.24, and as one speaker remarked, some residents pay $1,200 in monthly utility bills.

"Can you afford higher energy bills?" Sweeney asked the crowd. "No!" they shouted.

Andrew Halcro of AVISAlaska called the Waxman-Markey bill "political," adding that it could be very harmful to Alaska's economy. Read his thoughts about the climate bill.

More Energy Citizens rallies are expected to occur before Congress returns to Washington from its August recess.