by Dick Kauffman
November 09, 2005
Governor Murkowski said, the future of Alaska lies in the development of its economy and by developing Alaska's resources. Building an economy in a big hunk of real estate like Alaska that's one-fifth the size of the United States with a small population of under 700,000, brings up two questions said Murkowski. "How do you build an economy, and what do you do with it after you build it?"
Alaska has tremendous resources - oil, gas, timber, minerals, fish and tourism, said Murkowski. He then refocused the audience on the questions, "So how do you develop that in a positive way so it builds an economy, and then what do you do with an economy?"
With a strong economy, you'll have quality education, a quality university system, quality health care, be able to take care of our Senior citizens, meet the requirement of public safety and maintain law and order said Gov. Murkowski. "But most of all, you could challenge the young people in this state." Murkowski said many young people are leaving Alaska for jobs elsewhere.
In giving examples of how resources are being developed, Murkowski asked the students if they had seen Alaska Airline's plane - the "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon" - which is painted like a huge salmon. Murkowski said it's a technique the state is using that's working for marketing wild Alaska salmon. The Governor said, "We're doing two other things, we're marketing our product and we're taking better care of quality control... In other words shipping it out to the markets fresh because we have better transportation than we use to. We're getting a better price."
More resource development and future jobs are being planned in mining. "We're opening up mining in Alaska,"said Murkowski. For students wanting to be an engineer, there will be job opportunities in those areas. He said, "We're opening some big mines, one near Fairbanks and another one near Juneau. We'd like to open a molybdenum mine south of Ketchikan." Molybdenum is used to harden steel.
Murkowski said a decision will be made in Washington, D.C. on whether or not to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). "A lot of people don't realize the potential associated with Alaska, or the wealth. The energy wealth of North America is in the Arctic," he said.
Murkowski said we're talking about building the largest construction project ever undertaken in North America and that's the Alaska natural gasline. A project that will employ thousands of people.
Last week Murkowski met with the Premiers of the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and Alberta, Canada to discuss the gasline. Plans will take the gasline from Alaska through the Yukon Territory, to British Columbia, then Alberta, then on to Chicago.
Murkowski said the gasline will take four years to build, cost about $22-billion dollars and employ about 10,000 people. "We hope most of those are Alaskans."
the Governor and First Lady hold up a recent article distributed nationwide about
Ketchikan's proposed bridge, titled "A Visit To The Bridge To Nowhere".
Photo by Dick Kauffman ©2005
About the thousands of pipeline jobs, Murkowski said, "It's not going to be digging a ditch working with a pick. It's going to be trained machine operators, welders, individuals who have knowledge about how to fix machinery. These are going to be good paying jobs and they are going to allow for the development of many other resources coming into Alaska."
He said the gasline operation will add approximately two to three billion dollars in revenue to Alaska each year which can be used to improve the quality of life for all Alaskans.
Locally, Murkowski mentioned briefly the City of Ketchikan's plans to expand the docks for developing tourism resources. Plans to build a bridge from Ketchikan to the airport opening up both transportation and land resources on Gravina received more comments.
Public opinion as well as decisions by Congress can greatly affect the development of resources and job creation as the Governor pointed out as he held up a publication from the Miami Herald's weekend edition titled "A Visit To The Bridge To Nowhere".
He said this article about Ketchikan's proposed bridge appeared in every Sunday newspaper virtually nationwide. Murkowski said there will be ramifications associated with this story. He said this is how things come about in relation to public opinion.
"So as we look at where we are today, this bridge is going to become a national issue. And a national issue isn't based on the merits, because you actually need a bridge to your airport, it's based on public opinion. It's already been formulated to suggest that this is a bridge to nowhere."
On the lighter side eliciting laughter from the students Murkowski said, "Well, I'm going to Nowhere this afternoon, because I have to go to Sitka. That's the only way to get there is to go to Nowhere."
In his closing remarks and before taking questions from the high school students, Murkowski said, "We've got to provide good paying jobs, we've got to develop the resources."
He asked the students to think about where they want to be in six years.
"The best investment you
can make is in yourself and the best way to do that is pursue
further education," Governor Murkowski said.
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