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Political Implications - State Ramifications


An investigation of the political groups associated with the State of Alaska found that the political ramifications of a decision for drilling would be good in the short and long term. The main benefit of opening ANWR for drilling is the economic stability that it would bring to the state as a whole. Oil is the main source of income and stability for the Alaskan government and Alaska would be economically sound for 20-30 years after the opening of ANWR, because of the oil royalties. This would allow for the State to address important issues such as education and healthcare instead of combating the unemployment and the slowed economy which will eventually be the result of keeping ANWR closed.

Native Alaskans are hoping to gain more political influence, something they have been losing since Alaska became a state. The majority of their influence comes because of their corporations. These corporations would benefit from oil drilling because of the royalties they are entitled to by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The larger these corporations grow the more economic influence they have on state politics. The hopes of Natives that their economic influence will translate to social influence can only be bolstered by the economic gains of oil drilling.

The State of Alaska has three representatives in U.S. Congress: Congressman Don Young, Senator Ted Stevens, and Senator Lisa Murkowski. Both Senators Stevens and Murkowski are already leaders for the Republicans in the Senate. The opening of ANWR for drilling won't affect their political careers. Looking at the picture of Alaska's role in the federal government, Alaska will more than likely maintain its current role when ANWR is opened. Alaska is already a major oil producing state for the US and this would not change. One way Alaska could gain more power in Congress is through an increase in representation, which only comes with population increase. Oil drilling in ANWR will not increase the amount of people that emigrate to Alaska, and so Alaska's congressional standing won't change.

Native Corporations and the State of Alaska will benefit from production of ANWR's oil resources. Alaska, on the national level, won't gain or lose any standing with a pro-drilling decision. The combination of these factors and no major political drawbacks indicate that the state political ramifications of oil production are better than those associated with the protection of ANWR.


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