Mike Dunleavy recently flew all the way to the east coast to stand by Donald Trump as he gutted rules under the nation’s “environmental magna carta” – the National Environmental Policy Act.
Of course Mike Dunleavy has contorted himself in any number of ways to coddle a President who’s handling of the COVID pandemic has cast our nation into its worst crisis since the Great Depression.
But it’s clear Mr. Dunleavy had no idea the Environmental Impact Statement – the target of Mr. Trump’s ire – is an Alaskan invention, and reflects the very values of ingenuity, tenacity and independence that make Alaska The Great Land.
In 1958, Edward Teller – the “father” of the hydrogen bomb – sought to display the value of nuclear weapons for “peaceful” purposes. He wanted to use 6 nuclear bombs to blast a giant hole in the coast near Point Hope, to build a new harbor and to demonstrate to the world the “safe” and utilitarian uses for nuclear bombs (Teller ultimately wanted to blast a giant, new Panama Canal). It was called “Project Chariot.”
Fortunately, the Alaska Native people nearby rose-up, and they worked closely with scientists to stop the insanity. In the course of their opposition, they reflected on age-old Native principals and traditional knowledge, and combined them with modern science and law – to call for an assessment of all the direct, indirect and cumulative risks and impacts that might flow from blasting a massive hole in coastal Alaska.
The environmental impact statement was born.
UAF Professor and author Dan O’Neill’s book “The Firecracker Boys” is a great and important read that tells the full story.
But not surprisingly, Mr. Dunleavy made no mention of this rich and vital history. He gave no nod to the Native people who defended their land and their culture and their lifestyle against one of the stupidest ideas in U.S. history. And he gave no hint the Trump Administration would soon be ramming through a sloppy, politically-motivated EIS to pave the way for the Pebble mine.
The environmental impact statement – and the brave and tireless work by those who devised it – are a true reflection of Alaskan values. Mr. Trump’s work to gut the EIS – and Mike Dunleavy’s complete ignorance about Alaskans’ role in creating it – are not.