Resource Development Council Stands for Alaska

By Marleanna Hall

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC), is proud to support all responsible resource development across the state, including tourism, fishing, mining, forestry, and oil and gas, and have been since we were founded in 1975.

This last week, RDC hosted over 30 speakers at our annual conference, many with optimistic news from all resource sectors, as well as Alaska Native executives, labor leaders, and elected officials.

The message of optimism, moving forward, and responsibly developing Alaska’s natural resources was at the forefront for the hundreds of Alaskans who attended.

But on the first day of the conference, a fellow Alaskan, Art Bloom, wrote an opinion piece that in short, said “RDC should stand for salmon.” To be clear, RDC does stand for salmon, as well as jobs, communities, and the Alaskan way of life.

I agree with Mr. Bloom. Salmon, and all fish and marine species are vital to Alaska and the people who live here.

I also agree with Mr. Bloom that the Alaska seafood industry is one of the best managed in the world, a fact we often tout.

What Mr. Bloom failed to do in his opinion piece is provide an example of why he thinks RDC isn’t standing for salmon. Instead of pointing to facts, he points to our support for Stand for Alaska, a diverse group of Alaskans that came together in October to inform fellow Alaskans about the negative consequences of the deeply flawed, proposed fish habitat initiative.

The initiative, 17FSH2, is a response to a problem that simply does not exist.

Mr. Bloom neglected to give an example of how, or when, a fish habitat permit in Alaska has failed. Given the drastic impacts the proposed initiative will have on community and resource development projects across the state, Alaskan’s are right to be concerned.

Mr. Bloom did state that the Board of Fish (BOF) requested updates to the habitat permitting law in January 2017. What he omitted, was the actual ask by the BOF, which was to add a public comment opportunity and a method of accountability in the fish habitat permit process. The proposed initiative goes way beyond that simple request, and represents extreme overreach that could put Alaska’s resource-extraction based economy in the deep freeze and kill future opportunities for Alaska and its residents while providing no added benefits to fish habitat.

As Alaskans, we brag about responsibly developing our natural resources, building and expanding our communities, and living in Alaska while protecting wildlife and the environment.

Let us celebrate the sustainable seafood industry, the growing tourism industry, the year over year increase in oil production, the increases in mining exploration investment, and the optimism in reviving a healthy timber industry. All of these industries have coexisted for decades.

After all, RDC and its thousands of members spanning all Alaska’s resource sectors DO stand for salmon, jobs, and communities. Insinuating otherwise is offensive. It is possible to support healthy fish habitat in our state, while simultaneously fighting against a job-killing initiative that is opposed by a broad coalition of businesses, labor unions, Alaska Native corporations, and many other Alaska-based organizations.

When the time comes, Alaskans who want to see a future filled with jobs, opportunities, and salmon protections should Stand for Alaska, and vote no on the flawed fish habitat initiative.

Marleanna Hall is the Executive Director for the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc., an Alaskan, non-profit, membership-funded organization comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as the 12 Alaska Native corporations.

Hall, an Inupiat Eskimo and lifelong Alaskan, also serves as Chair for Stand for Alaska, a group formed in October 2017 to defeat a proposed ballot measure in 2018.

Lizzie Rosen