Posted by: Marc Cappelletti | October 10, 2008

Palin’s Oil-Backing Will Hurt Alaska Tourism

Will Sarah Palin’s backing of the oil industry come at the expense of the tourism industry? I say, yes.

As I listen to her asking for prayers for the pipeline one quote comes to mind: “In the end, we will only conserve what we love. We will only love what we understand. We will only understand what we are taught.” ~ Baba Dioum, African environmentalist

What Governor Palin doesn’t understand, or chooses to ignore, is that increased drilling of Alaska will hurt so many sustainable opportunities to bring revenue to the state. It diverts funding, increasing timetables for anything “green” to take effect, and will even impact the states food sources and secondary exports. In her defense, I do understand that the oil industry is about 80% of the Alaskan economy. It’s tough to ignore the demands of 80% of your state’s economy.

But, as someone who works in the travel industry and has been throughout Alaska’s Inside Passage several times, I am very concerned when people like Palin dismiss scientific studies and back the drilling of Alaska’s great wilderness. Global warming not exacerbated by man’s doing? Please. Preservation and environmentally sustainable energy solutions are the future. Their pros far outweigh the cons. And their benefits will trickle down into everything from increased jobs, higher tourism to stable food prices and lower health insurance premiums.

By funding initiatives to back more drilling she is putting all her (and America’s) eggs in one eroding, unsustainable basket. And the snowball effect that will come from it includes everything from a decrease in wildlife (whales, bears) meaning a decrease in reasons to visit the state, higher health risks for its citizens, higher insurance, higher food costs and the list goes on.

If Governor Palin really wanted to protect the future of Alaska she’d invest in water and wind energy, tourism, and make the state stand out and be an example of where the world can go, not where it already went.

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