Conservative Patriots Group Q&A

Questions below were sent to all candidates for 2014, by the Wasilla based Conservative Patriots Group. I am in no way affiliated with this group. I am glad they are helping their members and the general public be more involved and informed in the political process.

Andrew C. Lee
Candidate for Lt. Governor
Alaska Libertarian Party

1. Do you believe in the written Rule of Law as expressed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by the founding fathers and reject the idea of a living Constitution? Please explain.

Yes. We are a society of laws. Laws must be obeyed and enforced; if they are not worthy of either, then they must be repealed. If people want a law to be changed, then they must go through one of the legal processes to change it. No selective enforcement, no living documents.

2. Do you believe that government is best when it governs least? Please explain.

Yes. Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re controlling what someone else is doing. As a Libertarian I am the opposite, I am most unhappy when I am in charge of controlling what someone else is doing. I don’t want to use government to force others to conform to my position. Governments must be limited only to governing those aspects of society that cannot be effectively governed at a more local level of government all the way down to an individual governing his or her own self. As Milton Friedman put it: “Libertarians want the smallest, least-intrusive government consistent with maximum freedom for each individual to follow his own ways, his own values, as long as he doesn’t interfere with anyone else doing the same.”

3. Do you believe in the individual’s right to life, liberty, and property? Please explain.

Yes. I believe each individual has natural rights, including life, liberty, and property. The Bill of Rights simply recognizes and legally protects these rights from interference by the Federal Government.

4. Do you believe in the sanctity of the individual from conception (Pro-Life)? Please explain.

Most of your members would probably say that I do not. I cannot fathom electing for an abortion. But I do not have a uterus, so I will never face that decision. But I cannot find a basis for government to interfere. I believe an individual’s body is their sovereign territory and government laws should not penetrate inside. At conception a new and distinct human life is created, this is scientific fact. This life, however, is not an individual. You cannot separate that life from the life giver without the new life perishing. I hope for a future where there is no demand for abortion, where new life is valued by all who could create it, where personal responsibility and respect are the norm.

5. Do you believe our freedoms and rights are God-given natural rights, not given by the government? Please explain.

Yes. I believe each individual has natural rights, nature itself is the origin of these rights; whether or not there is a God. Government derives it’s powers from the rights of the individual. We cannot empower the government to do anything that we as an individual cannot do. We recognize that if an individual cannot force another to give up their life or property, then the government cannot either. If it’s wrong for you to do it, then it’s more wrong for government to do it.

6. Do you have compassion for the poor but oppose policies, such as socialism, that encourage people to remain on public assistance? Please explain.

Yes. Tax dollars should only be used to provide the required essential services of government. Tax dollars should never be redistributed to individuals. I believe in charity. I believe in free will. I cannot justify using the force and violence of tax collection by any level of government to take from one person and give to another; that is not compassion, that is theft. I believe that compassion must be a personal choice. I believe that private charities, when unbound by excessive regulation, are the best avenue for helping those in need, and are the best arbiters for determining who the needy are and are not. I believe that social programs run by governments become self-perpetuating, bloated, inefficient, and damaging to the people they purport to be attempting to help.

7. Do you believe in a strong military and have a great respect for those who have put their lives in peril to protect freedom? Please explain.

Yes. A strong national military is a critical need for a nation, a well defined Constitutional duty of our Federal Government, and cannot feasibly be done at a lower level of government. A portion of individual citizens’ natural right to self defense can and should be invested into a collective power of national defense. Likewise we have a collective duty to not abuse this power nor to abuse or neglect those that wield it on our behalf.

8. Do you support HJR 1? Please explain.

No. I am completely opposed to using tax dollars to fund private organizations, or private vouchers. Taxes are a necessary way to fund government, and should only be used to fund necessary government functions. Local districts and individual schools should have more control over spending priorities and curriculum, and not be forced into national one-size-fits-all schemes. Taxes should (almost) never be used for the private benefit of individuals. So I oppose vouchers when funded through taxation. Taxation is force, putting a tax collector’s gun to someone’s head and saying “help pay for my child to go to a private school or you will go to jail” would violate my ethics. However, Alaska is an owner state. Royalty revenues from resource development belongs to all; we as a people can decide how to divide that money up. We can say we want equal shares to each, like we do with a portion of it now through the PFD. But just as easily we can have another fund that provides Education Fund Dividends to people who meet certain criteria, such as students of a certain age. Those people could then use that money toward whatever they want, including any school of their choice.

More thoughts on schools and education:

9. What infrastructure development would you support and why (projects such as Knik Arm bridge, coal, hydro, road etc.)? Please include project(s) of your choice.

First things first. I oppose any unsustainable or deficit budget. We must first fund all things required by law, then we can discuss discretionary spending such as capital projects, which may be zero for several years until we recover from the past several years of excessive budgets. Maintenance on existing infrastructure would get priority, then development of new projects. I believe the State of Alaska should focus on empowering private enterprise to pursue the projects that it deems worthy. Empowerment of private sector takes very little State money, merely streamlining regulations and compliance burdens, providing prompt action on necessary regulation and enforcement, and fighting Federal overreach that places undue burden on progress.

10. Do you support SB 90? Please explain.

I am not well enough versed in this bill and the related issues to have a strong opinion on the specific language of the bill. In principle, we must keep all the promises that we have made, and stop making unsustainable promises that we will not be able to keep.

11. Please describe your top three legislative priorities.

1) Reduce the State’s gross overspending, bringing spending within levels that maintain or increase our savings plans (these plans are like retirement plans for TAPS, when that funding stream goes away; depleting them now will be devastating to Alaska within 8 years.)

2) Reduce and streamline the burden that regulations and laws impose on the people. This includes working to reduce laws and enforcement expenses for crimes against oneself (such as drug laws).

3) Fight Federal overreach, including nullification of excessive Federal laws, enforcement of the original Alaska Statehood compact (such as 90%/10% split for resources from federal land), drastically reduce federal oversight and law enforcement within the state (such as BLM and NPS).

12. Do you support SB 21 as originally voted by our elected officials? Please explain.

Sure. I voted on 1; I want Alaska to keep the new oil tax plan created by SB21. Every expert I value says the immediate difference in revenue between the old Palin ACES law and the new laws is slightly more or slightly less depending on markets. A majority of legislators were voted into office on a platform to pass this legislation; we owe it to those voters to see this through. The best way to increase revenue is by increasing production, or we will very shortly find ourselves with a frozen and shutdown oil pipeline.

13. Have you or will you take funds from public employee unions to help finance your campaign? Do you see any conflict of interest if you accept such funds? Please explain.

Absolutely. I’ll take as much money from anyone and everyone that is allowed by law. There is no conflict. Honest. Campaign contributions may be sent to “Andrew C Lee for Alaska” PO Box 1370, Nome, AK 99762

14. Would you support legislation that prohibited the state from withholding public employee union dues from an employee’s paycheck? Please explain.

Maybe. If the administrative costs for providing this service to the unions is significant, then the cost should be born by the private beneficiary and not paid for by public funds. If this cost is minimal, then I’m not going to exert a disproportionate amount of time to change the law. We have bigger things to deal with.

15. Do you support the legalization of marijuana? Please explain.

Yes. I’ve never tried that crap and I don’t have any interest in it. But I’m tired of our government and society wasting money and lives on that plant. Anti-drug laws keep illegal drug dealers in business.

Right now we have all these unlicensed pharmacists dispensing unregulated drugs in secret and shadow. Now the unlicensed and unregulated parts don’t bother me so much; it’s the secrets and shadows that cause the problems. Lets bring drugs all out into the open, so the consumer can be informed, so the sellers can have and build reputations for the quality of their products and service. That would solve most of the issues with drugs today; and the issues that decriminalization does not solve are already with us today and are being made worse by bad laws.

I hope no one misunderstands. I don’t think people should smoke pot, or anything else, but that is a very long way from thinking pot should be illegal or that my views against drug use is a justifiable use of force to collect tax dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for disagreeing with me.

16. Will you assist in reducing the budget, even if this means less money to your district for non-essential projects? Please explain.

Absolutely. TAPS won’t last forever, we are destroying our TAPS retirement accounts, we are increasing the infrastructure dependant on State funds. Unless we do everything legal to bring the budget under control, the consequences will be severe. The longer we delay in enacting fiscal sanity, the sooner and harsher the austerity measures will be. Right now it’s 8 years away. Another two budgets like we had the last two years and it will be much sooner. If we don’t act, this would force major austerity measures and state income taxes.

17. Why do you think you best represent your constituents?

I’m on the ballot and they aren’t. 🙂 I’m just a regular person, I’ve lived a life much like theirs, I share many of the same concerns and hopes. I don’t say I’m the best person to represent them. I say that I hope I am good enough to represent them. Of course it helps that I am smarter and better looking than average.

18. Do you think Alaska has a sustainable budget? Please explain.

No. You cannot call depleting our State savings accounts and increasing spending faster than revenues “sustainable” by any definition within the realm of reality.

19. Do you support an increase in the minimum wage for Alaska? Please explain.

No. I do not think the government has any standing to interfere with private contracts such as wages. What we need to do is reduce the government imposed barriers to entry that would allow an individual to start their own business and compete. The only reasons people take low paying jobs are: they are not valuable enough to the business to command a higher wage, the low wage is more than they would otherwise make at another job or through self-employment, and/or they get other benefits such as training and education (like an internship) that the employee values.

Park Service is Wrong on Predator Control

Response to Sept 4, 2014 Alaska Dispatch News Article: “Park service moves to block predator control on federal land in Alaska

When will these meddling outsiders get it through their heads, in most of Alaska “hunting” does not mean going out in the woods with a couple buddies and a few cases of beer to shoot animals as something to do when there are no sports of TV. This is how people eat, its about survival. All you self-proclaimed “environmentalists” are so worried about carbon emissions, think about what it takes to farm raise beef, process, freeze, then fly by jet to the grocery stores here in remote Alaska; and compare that to sustainable local harvest of delicious and nutritious wildlife.

The National Parks Service controls an area of Alaska that is about the same size as Massachusetts,Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, and West Virginia combined. If it was up to me, Alaska would completely take over ownership and management of all federal lands in the state except for military reservations and small areas around national monuments.

The locals know when there are too many predators. Local traditional knowledge, combined with modern tagging, tracking, and other assessment methods tell us how to manage wildlife to the maximum benefit of the people. And if locals decide that tourists looking at wolves is more important than eating moose, then the wolves will find their way to that area. If the locals want the helicopter gunships to come back and take care of the exploding wolf and bear populations, then let them. Predator control is not about sportsmanship, it’s about survival.

I trust local people to govern over their own lives, they are the most responsive to changing situations and needs, they are the ones that must live with the consequences.

Drugs and Laws

YES on 2Vote Nov 4th, 2014

Right now we have all these unlicensed pharmacists dispensing unregulated drugs in secret and shadow. Now the unlicensed and unregulated parts don’t bother me so much; it’s the secrets and shadows that cause the problems. Lets bring drugs all out into the open, so the consumer can be informed, so the sellers can have and build reputations for the quality of their products and service. That would solve most of the issues with drugs today; and the issues that decriminalization does not solve are already with us today and are being made worse by bad laws.

I hope no one misunderstands. I don’t think people should smoke pot, or anything else, but that is a very long way from thinking pot should be illegal or that my views against drug use is a justifiable use of force to collect tax dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for disagreeing with me.

I don’t want to use government to force others to conform to my position.

Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re controlling what someone else is doing. As a Libertarian I am the opposite, I am most unhappy when I am in charge of controlling what someone else is doing.

Free Cars for All My Employees

Lets say that I own a company and that I feel safe and reliable transportation for my employees is so important that I choose to give each employee a car. I’m paying for the car, so I get to decide what type of car they get and what features it has. This is a gift for being an employee, or in other words it is an employee benefit. A benefit is just a gift with strings attached.

Lets say an employee smokes and demands that the car I give him has a built in lighter and ashtray, or an employee drives in from out of town and demands that the car I give him has satellite internet. They can demand and I can refuse; this is called a free market. I can also fire, and get less whiny employees; this is called free market. They can quit and go try to find another employer that will give them the type of car they want; this is called free market.

How about I just want to give them a basic car, purely no frills transportation. No power steering, no power locks, no power windows. Even if 99% of cars have these. I’m upfront with my employees and prospective hires. If they choose to work for me they know what to expect, no secrets there. And if they want those features, they can pay to have them installed. I could even give them cars with no airbags or seat belts, personally I never would omit those features, but the point is I should be allowed to give or not give them whatever I want; it’s my gift.

Facts about how air bags and seat belts save lives and are important features to a safe car are not relevant; no one should be allowed to force me to pay for them if I don’t want. That is called freedom. It’s also called stupid, but that is the great thing about freedom, freedom allows stupidity. Freedom allows choice. Any attempt to remove or limit choice is an assault on freedom. Freedom is choice. Force is authoritarianism.

As a Libertarian I oppose the initiation of force. In the above example, no one is forcing me to give anyone a car, no one is forcing someone to take a car, no one is forcing the car to have certain features. The parties involved in that exchange can use their leverage and power to negotiate a situation more conducive to their desires without initiating force or violence. An outside party (or even a government) can look in on this private situation and baulk at one one side offers and what the other side agrees to, but it is never their place to interfere with free exchange between consenting adults.

If you see a situation that you don’t like and you want to use the force (violence) of government to fix it, ask first if a problem can be solved with more freedom instead of less. If less freedom, then stop, you are out of line.

Back to the car example. To improve the choices for the employer providing the free car to the employees and to improve the choices the employees have to customize the cars to suit their desires, there are several ways for the government to provide more freedom. Equalize tax burdens so a gift of a car and the gift of money equal to what the employer would spend on the car are taxed or not taxed the same. (Gasp, do we dare to remove a crony tax loophole!) Reduce regulations that drive up the cost of cars, yes government should be in charge of defining standards it’s listed right there in the US Constitution, and yes an appropriate level of regulation forcing car makers to reduce the harm their cars might do to people that do not opt in to a fully disclosed risk. But for the most part there are a lot of shenanigans from the mining of the raw materials to the buyer registering the final product that needlessly drive up the cost of a car.


Libertarians respond to Hobby Lobby ruling

Once again the Libertarian perspective is the most reasoned and most inline with the basic principles of freedom and liberty. Even for this red herring of an topic. Below is the official statement from the national Libertarian Party. -Andrew C. Lee

In response to yesterday’s Hobby Lobby ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict made the following statement:

It’s strange that liberals and conservatives are making this ruling out to be a huge deal. All the ruling does is remove a very narrow coverage requirement, in very specific cases; 99.9 percent of Obamacare is upheld.

It’s true that closely held corporate entities should not be forced to pay for this particular contraceptive coverage. But focusing on that narrow issue misses the bigger point: No employer should be forced to provide any health coverage at all.

This ruling just draws the line between freedom and regulation arbitrarily. If these employers are free to ignore this particular mandate, why aren’t other employers free to ignore other Obamacare regulations? They should be.

Obamacare is unjust and unconstitutional from top to bottom. No employer should be forced to provide health coverage to its employees, or penalized by government if it doesn’t…


No Knock Cop Shot, Killed

A grand jury has refused to indite Henry Magee for the shooting death of an intruder in his Somerville Texas home in December 2013; despite the fact that the home intruder was police sergeant Adam Sowders, who was reportedly acting on official business.  There are several reactions I have to this.

First, I feel bad for the law enforcement officer that was killed and his family. I never want to see the police killed, even in tv and movies I dislike scenes where cops are getting slaughtered. Several of my friends and former co-workers are law enforcement officers; through them I have a small hint of what it means to be in that profession, which is much more of an understanding than most people. I don’t want to see them being ordered into situations that are more dangerous than they need to be.

I also feel bad for the victim of the no-knock police raid, he was forced into a situation where he felt he had to kill someone in order to defend himself and his family. I can easily see myself being in the same situation and doing the same thing. Most people would, and the members of the grand jury also agreed. Just because we have different preferences in houseplants, doesn’t change the situation enough in my mind.

That brings me to these houseplants. When is the last cop going to die and the last father imprisoned over a stupid plant? I hope soon. Too many have died and too many are in prison over differences in gardening preferences.

Perhaps the most concerning part of this situation is that police felt the need to barge into a house at 6am with guns drawn. Was this guy a hermit that never left his residence? Did the police have enough intel to know that he might have some illegal plants but not enough to know when a safer time was to arrest him. This type of raid must be curtailed; invading a house pre-dawn with guns drawn should not be a first resort nor a preferred method. Arrest him as he pulls out of his driveway, or when he gets out of his car at the grocery store. Sure, it takes a little more surveillance work and it’s not as much fun as a night time raid; but correct me if I’m wrong to believe that it has a higher survival rate.

All these police home invasion stories remind me of two formative cases from my early teen years. In one a man who called himself David Koresh, a cult leader who orchestrated the systematic rape of girls and young teens, was sought by police. Despite law enforcement knowing that he went on a run outside his compound every day, and despite having infiltrated his organization with an undercover agent, the BATFE conducted a frontal assault resulting in the death of four agents. A minimal understanding of centuries old tactics says to avoid attacking the fortified castle when the leaders can be captured outside the gates.

The other case that comes to mind is that of Randy Weaver, where an angry neighbor lied to authorities, and federal informants and agents conspired against him, and where  paperwork and communication errors caused a bench warrant to be issued, and where overzealous feds escalated the situation over eight years with targeted harassment, starting as a non-violent misunderstanding to one agent dead and federal agents killing his dog, his son, and his wife. Weaver was acquitted and his surviving family paid $3.1M in a settlement.

We need leaders who understand that the powers of government are derived from the natural rights of the citizens of that government who choose to invest a portion of their individual sovereign rights into the collective powers of the nation. When this happens new powers are not created, nor is the responsibility abnegated by the source individuals to ensure that power is wielded correctly by their proxies.

As Lt. Governor of Alaska, I hope to work with other Alaskan leaders to ensure our law enforcement officers and agencies are provided with all the tools needed to conduct reasonably safe, prompt, and respectful operations. Equipment is only one factor; and I don’t want our police and troopers to look like an occupying military force. Important too are sound engagement practices, being a cop can be very hard we need to allow officers to use the proper tools and tactics to get the job done in as safe a manner as feasible.

Andrew C. Lee for Alaska Lt. Governor Announcement

Andrew C. Lee files to run for Lt. Governor of Alaska. Nome, AK

Andrew C. Lee files to run for Lt. Governor of Alaska. Nome, AK

Alaska Friends: The morning of May 29th I put on my least grubby Carhartts, went down to the Nome elections office and filed my official paperwork to run for the Libertarian Party nomination for the office of Lt. Governor of the State of Alaska. Voter access and vote integrity are very important principles to me and are at the core of the duty entrusted to the Lt. Governor. My intense interest in and familiarity with science and technology make me well suited to fulfill the duties of Lt. Gov related to these fields. The technical and legal nuances of guarding the State seal sounds like fun to me; I promise not to take it clubbing.

I hold no illusions about my chances to win this election. If I do win, I will serve in the elected position to the fullest extent the office requires. I know some will mistakenly dismiss me as only trying to receive the 3% that State law requires every party to obtain in each Governor’s race to maintain the party’s ballot access for all seats in the next elections. They are wrong. I am running for the job, I am running to win. There are serious issues where the Libertarian perspective differs greatly from the other parties and would be better for Alaska and Alaskans; our voice needs to be heard.

I suspect that many of you may wonder if I am too liberal for this role, either as the Libertarian candidate or the elected Gov Lite of Alaska. Over the next few weeks I will be posting more statements to my blog on various topics which will help explain my viewpoint and thought process. You will have seen many of these comments before, either on social media or private conversations; I will be consolidating these into one place and expanding them for clarity. A link will be provided once I have made sufficient updates to the site.

A few brief points, which serve as part of the foundation of my views:

I value principle over popularity. I balance practicality and principle.

Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re controlling what someone else is doing. As a Libertarian I am the opposite, I am most unhappy when I am in charge of controlling what someone else is doing. I don’t want to use government to force others to conform to my personal positions.

We are a society of laws. Laws must be obeyed and enforced; if they are not worthy of either, then they must be repealed.

We need to keep all the promises that have been made, and we need to stop making unsustainable promises.

The Alaska State constitution requires that we spend the maximum amount on social programs and capital improvements that we can sustainably spend from royalty revenues derived from oil production and other resource development.

I ask first if a problem can be solved with more freedom instead of less. I say the truth as I see it as often as I can. I change my mind every time I see myself as being wrong.

I hope each of you will consider me when choosing how to vote, and decide for yourselves if I am good enough for your vote.

Andrew C. Lee
Libertarian Candidate for Lt. Governor of Alaska, 2014

Public Schools

Public schools have long been the battleground social engineers and the hapless meddling of meddlers.

In Alaska, we need to stop complying with Federal education mandates that don’t make sense in Alaska. For example Bush’s failed No Child Left Behind, or as I call it, No Child Allowed to Excel.

We also need to eliminate the squeamishness that has infiltrated our schools. Prohibit the intolerant Zero Tolerance policies; children should be afforded the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Be honest to students about topics like drugs and sex; kids are smart, who do we think we’re fooling.

Alaska needs to allow teachers to focus on teaching, not testing. Alaskan teachers are great, they, along with involved parents know when and where a child is struggling much faster and more accurately than any standardized test. And they know how to best help that student achieve their maximum potential, whether that potential be limited to expertly driving a bus or designing space vehicles; both of which are worthy and useful work.

There have been recent efforts by some to allow for state education vouchers which could be used for private schools. I do not support the State taking taxes by force and giving it to individuals. Public schools should be controlled at the local level. Let us also recognize that education of our youth benefits all society. So be it, if the State legislature determines that it is in to the maximum benefit of all Alaskans to use State production royalty revenues to  fund students for K-12 education, by assigning each student a State benefit of monetary value based on an equitable formula normalized for variations in regional expenses; then the individual student should be able to use that benefit at any accredited school, be it a public school, private school, or home school.

Another debate I hear amongst public school meddlers is a push by some Bible literalists to require creationism to be taught as a required part of the state curriculum. I am completely opposed to this. Creationism is not science, it is philosophy; it can be appropriate to discuss it in the context of a philosophy-related course, such as comparative religion, social studies, and cultural studies. The theory of evolution is currently the best and most accepted theory for the topic it covers, and should be covered in the appropriate science classes.

As with all scientific theories, it is important to discuss the limitations of the theory and the science-based challenges to the theory. For example how Einstein’s theories helped correct the flaws in Newton’s theories; but even his theories have flaws. Darwinism also has flaws and limitations. In proper science, it is especially important to recognize the flaws in theories when we don’t know how to fix them. Also, the academic freedom of teachers to teach is a very important principle in a free society. As the quote goes: “You don’t use science to show that you’re right, you use science to become right.” And: “The history of science is the history of struggle against entrenched error.”

Along those same lines, sex education in Alaskan schools has been a hot bed of activity. Some flirt with abstinence-only policies, while others want to thrust soft-core porn into the faces of elementary students. First the parent, and second the community should determine the appropriate type of sex education; this is something that the State and Federal government should not be involved in. There are two types of sex education: biological changes of puberty and relational complexities. The first is basic human biology which is very important and pertains directly to every student, and should be taught. The other type is philosophy and culturally dependent, and is an individual and local issue.


Pebble Mine

Several pounds of placer gold Andrew Lee helped mine from the bottom of the Bering Sea

Several pounds of placer gold Andrew Lee helped mine from the bottom of the Bering Sea.

When I first heard about Pebble Mine, I thought it was a great idea. Development of stranded resources and jobs and economic development in rural areas is good for Alaska. But, the more I learn about the Pebble mine area, the more I am deeply troubled, and have increased doubts that it can be done in a manner that does not harm others.

Having been a professional miner for the past several years and being a scientist by nature, I have a greater understanding of what is involved in such a mining project than the typical theater student, lawyer, or ad agency.

My mining has been for placer gold, which has been naturally freed from the host rock over hundreds of millennia, and has been soaking is sea water for perhaps thousands of years. My “mining waste” is simply any rock that I move, not a very valid use of the term “waste” but that is what it is called.

The Pebble Project would most certainly be a hard rock mine. Such mines extract ore from rocks by crushing them and sometimes bathing the crushed rock in acid to dissolve the copper and gold, other times they simply remove the newly freed metals via a gravity separation process. Modern mines typically use both methods, gravity first, then acid. Now as scary as the term “acid” is to people, that is really not the danger of modern mines that are built to existing standards required by State and National law. It is my understanding that these acids are well contained, highly unstable, and photo-degrade.

The true risk with Pebble comes from the crushing process of the natural rocks. As the Bristol Bay region was formed, in relatively recent geologic time, natural processes have broken up the rocks and dissolved into aqueous solution the various natural minerals of these rocks. The rate of this natural leaching depends on the surface area of the rock and the rate of the flow of water around it. This is how we get hard water.

Mining in Pebble would most certainly increase the surface area of the rocks several thousand times, by making them into many very small rocks. The process would also “fluff the material making it easier for water to flow more easily through. The result would be a very dramatic increase in the levels of various minerals in the water, which could reach a level toxic to fish.

Andrew Lee with crab he caught using a subsistence pot off the back of a Seadoo offshore Nome, AK.

Andrew Lee with crab he caught using a subsistence pot off the back of a Seadoo offshore Nome, AK.

One way to deal with this issue is to sequester the crushed rock tailings in a place that has very limited hydrology, such as a plateau or a dammed area. Finding a stable area that does not have water running through it might be hard to do at Pebble. Building a large enough dam area that would be stable enough for long enough may also be problematic.

As a scientist, I cannot prejudge the project until I have their project plan to evaluate. A plan that I am very interested in seeing. I may be wrong, there may exist proven, reliable, technology that would allow Pebble to proceed without harm to others. But that is a very high burden of proof they would have to meet before I would support them.

A Lot of Gas

Forty years! Forty years! Alaskans have been talking about a “gas pipeline” for over four decades. Over one billion dollars has been spent talking about this.

There will be no gas pipeline. Get over it.

I want there to be a gas pipeline. Alaskans would greatly benefit from a gas pipeline. Every Alaskan governor for the past 40 years has wanted a gas pipeline, some more than others. This is not a problem that the office of the Governor or Lt. Governor can solve.

New, cheap, local gas has been discovered all across America, with supplies to last them many decades. It makes no sense to export the gas to or through Canada. It’s extremely expensive to export it to Asia. Fairbanks area communities would greatly benefit from inexpensive gas, but there is a large amount of infrastructure that would need to be put in place to make it happen, and would there be enough usage to justify the capital cost? What is the ROI for a Fairbanks-only plan?

It may prove too hard to relieve ourselves of this stranded gas problem.

As with all things, I am open to being proven wrong. If I were an elected official, I will work really, really hard to make a gas pipeline a reality for all Alaskans. I promise.