Letter: Alaska's Arctic Refuge should be protected

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Some members of the U.S. Congress want to play legislative games to sell-off pristine federal land. They want to open Alaska’s Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling. It’s a mistake and a bad deal for all of us. It’s a good thing Sen. Susan Collins opposed it, but it wasn’t enough. She was the only Republican to vote against it.

First, Congress should not have leveraged the Arctic Refuge with legislative gimmicks. Let’s have an open discussion about our energy priorities and the Arctic Refuge’s role in our energy security. However, slipping an amendment into a must-pass, fast-tracked bill – as they’ve done – is not an open discussion. It’s trying to be sneaky.

Second, risking the pristine Arctic Refuge isn’t worth the payoff. Revenues from drilling would be less than 1 percent of the budget deficits proposed by President Trump. Meanwhile, the U.S. is already on its way to total energy independence, even without drilling in Arctic Refuge. The bill said it would be worth $2 billion over 10 years. It is really estimated to worth less than $40 million.

We don’t need new oil supplies; we know that the risks of drilling in this pristine area far outweigh the benefits. Why risk it then? We shouldn’t. Trump promised Americans that as president, he’d made good deals. Selling off the Arctic Refuge is a bad one. Collins was smart to vote against this. But it wasn’t enough. Everyone else needs to stand up to keep this beautiful area protected.

Ryan Kittle