Obama will be focusing on climate change when he arrives in Alaska today – Los Angeles Times
The Obama administration is renaming the tallest mountain in America, and the president has already made plans to tape an Alaska wilderness trek with a TV survivalist. And that’s all before he’s even set foot in the Last Frontier.
Fun aside, President Obama’s three-day trip to Alaska to highlight climate change issues — which begins when he touches down here in the 49th state Monday afternoon — comes with a tense backdrop.
Obama hopes to make climate change the cornerstone of his final time in office.
As senior advisor Brian Deese told reporters before the trip, “The president has been pretty clear about his long-term vision for our nation’s energy sector. He believes that America needs to lead, and the world needs to lead, in transitioning to an energy system based on carbon-zero renewable energy.”
But environmentalists are wary of the man who just allowed Royal Dutch Shell to develop limited offshore oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea. An online petition by the group Credo Action sends the angry message: “Climate leaders don’t drill the Arctic.”
A coalition of groups including Alaska Rising Tide is planning a rally Monday to demand an end to offshore Arctic drilling and a rapid transition to renewable energy sources. Animal welfare organizations have launched an ad campaign “to ensure that an increasingly ice-free Arctic will not become a thoroughfare for trade in commercial whale products.”
At the same time, there are those who argue that Obama hasn’t done enough to allow for the extraction of this cash-strapped state’s abundant natural resources, among them, oil, natural gas and minerals key to manufacturing.
Gov. Bill Walker, who is flying in with Obama on Air Force One, is among that group.
In a news conference last week about the president’s visit, he told reporters that “one of the major messages to the president is the fact that we have an excellent pipeline in Alaska, except it’s three-quarters empty. And so I’ll talk to him about what we need to do to put more oil in the pipeline, more access we need to have to our resources.”
The Arctic Slope Regional Corp., which is owned by and represents the business interests of the Arctic Slope Iñupiat, has launched an advertising and public relations effort to explain the complex nature of environmentalism and extraction.
In an op-ed article, the corporation’s president, Rex Rock, said the region he calls home has “an interest in striking a balance between environmental stewardship and economic growth. It is not a pristine snow globe that should be locked away in a museum of pretty places.”
The Arctic, wrote Rock, who is also a whaling captain, “is a vast, vibrant and diverse area that comes with unique challenges as well as huge opportunities to better the lives of the people who live in it, as well as those in the rest of the country we call home.”
Obama is scheduled to address the GLACIER conference on global leadership in the Arctic on Monday afternoon. The Anchorage event, sponsored by the State Department, brings together the foreign ministers of Arctic nations with scientists and policymakers.
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