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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Alaska citizens subsidize ANWR drilling roads

The state Senate in Alaska on Tuesday approved $2.4 billion in funding for construction and road projects. It includes authorization for Gov. Frank Murkowski's so-called "Roads to Resources" project, which will build and improve roads to access the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in anticipation of oil exploration there.

Roads to Resources includes $37 million of spending for roads, and for a new natural gas pipeline that Murkowski has been trying to get built in the state for years. The Senate's action Tuesday ensures that some of this expense will be covered by "permanent fund" monies, or royalties from oil extraction paid to the state and meant to be disbursed as annual checks to state residents as their share of the royalties.

Not everyone supports this use of the money, including Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage. In effect, it means that Alaska residents are paying to help oil companies access ANWR, when the oil companies should be bearing that expense. I'm sure most residents could find a better use for this money.

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