Sitka Gives a Dam
Background: In Sitka, we take climate change seriously–so seriously that the community just invested $96 million dollars into a hydroelection project at Blue Lake that will greatly cut our fossil fuel consumption.
The project came at an enormous price, but the benefits to the climate and our quality of life are worth the price. Unfortunately, most of that cost has fallen on the shoulders of our community. Despite efforts by SCS and the City of Sitka, the project has received no money from the federal government and only a small amount from the State of Alaska (which is a small fraction of the subsidies and support given to oil corporations every year). For the most part, the burden has fallen to the community of Sitka because oil companies have invested so much of their resources into convincing politicians that funding big oil is more important than funding sustainable communities. The result is that we are far behind where we need to be in moving our country and our economy in a direction away from fossil fuels to a renewable energy based economy.
Take Action: SCS is asking Senator Murkowski and the Senate Energy Committee to stand up for small towns, the climate, and a sustainable future. Please help us take action to demand that our politicians take climate change seriously. Write or call Senator Murkowski today.
Write:Senator Lisa Murkowski 709 Hart Senate Building Washington, DC 20510
Call:D.C.: 202-224-6665 Juneau: 907-586-7277
Check out the letter we wrote below for ideas.
Dear Senator Murkowski and Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
Climate change is the greatest threat to our way-of-life and national security. Climate change is caused by human activity that put amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at levels that are changing global climate and weather patterns. We know that these changes are disrupting agricultural production, global shipping, and causing more extreme weather events that put our coastal cities at risk.
Human caused climate change is happening because of our use of fossil fuels. Oil, gas, and coal have formed through biological and geological processes over millions of years. Human activity in the last 300 years since the beginning of the industrial revolution has burned a large number of those deposits of fossil fuels and put amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere far above normal natural/geological processes. It is known that the burning of fossil fuels has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 275 Parts-per-million to 390 parts-per-million. It is impossible for this change to happen without severe side-effects.
At the same time that the impacts of climate change are becoming apparent, we are seeing the end of fossil fuels. At this point, we must make greater investment and go to greater lengths to extract oil, gas, and coal from the earth. We are being forced to go into extreme oceans like the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea where conditions are extremely difficult and risky to operate in. We are forced to drill much deeper into the earth in areas of extremely high pressures as well as drill in very deep ocean waters. We are forced to use techniques like fracking that have consequences that we aren’t even fully aware of to access oil and gas. All of the above is being done without acknowledging the inevitable fact that fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that will run out.
American citizens are relying on your leadership. And yet, more and more it seems that Congressional policy seeks to favor the biggest corporate donors rather than take action that equates to good policy for the future of our nation. We have known about climate change for decades. Oil companies have invested in distracting the public and calling into doubt the science—just like big tobacco did when public policy to reduce tobacco deaths was being initiated. The result is that we are far behind where we need to be in moving our country and our economy in a direction away from fossil fuels and carbon emissions to a renewable energy based economy.
Despite the lack of significant and meaningful action from our elected leaders in Washington, DC, Americans across the country are stepping up and taking action. Here in our small town of Sitka, Alaska, where we live very close to the natural environment and can see the changes and impacts of climate change first-hand, we have decided to take action in a big way. This past December we broke ground on a $96 Million dollar, salmon-friendly hydroelectric expansion project. Most of the cost of this project is on the shoulders of the community members in Sitka. We have received support from the State of Alaska (which is a small fraction of the subsidies and support given to oil corporations) but we have received no help from the federal government.
We are asking you what you are going to do in this next session of Congress to take meaningful action to move our national energy policy in a direction that moves us away from a reliance on fossil fuels and reduces carbon emissions? In Sitka, we are tired of waiting for you to take action and we did it on our own. We are tired of the dynamic in Washington, DC and we implore you to take action for the sake of the future generations of our nation.
The Sitka Conservation Society