Remember Frank Murkowski? He was a mostly ineffective U.S. Senator, and after that the Governor who presided over the biggest corruption scandal in Alaska’s history. He was the President and CEO of Alaska National Bank when the decisions were made that led to that bank’s failure.1 He’s the guy who appointed his daughter to succeed him in the U.S. Senate. Mostly Murkie keeps a low profile now; with his record, he certainly should.2
But sometimes he emerges from obscurity to write an opinion piece on a subject he doesn’t know much about. And now he has done so on the Save Our Salmon Initiative. The Ex-Gov opens with this pearl of wisdom:
If Ballot Measure 1 passes, our fisheries, oil, gas, timber, minerals and even tourism would be severely restricted. The state’s annual Permanent Fund dividend would be significantly reduced over time. There would be no gas line, further oil development or new mines. Without the jobs and revenue from resources, state services would be severely curtailed. Specifically, where would the money come from for education, police protection, the environment and yes, even the quality of our Alaska lifestyle? The worst scenario would be a state in chaos facing bankruptcy.
Wow, state bankruptcy?3 That sounds really serious. How does Murkie prove such a remarkable claim?
He doesn’t. He doesn’t even try to do so. Go ahead, read his “opinion piece” yourself and see if you can detect any evidence for such a remarkable set of claims.
Murkie doesn’t offer any evidence because he can’t.
The Big Oil campaign against the salmon initiative is all about fear and nothing about facts. Big Oil, Big Mining and their elected – and formerly elected – allies like Ex-Gov Murkie are trying to scare Alaskans out of protecting salmon. It’s the same tactic that was used to defeat the initiative to repeal SB 21. It’s the same election trick that was used to defeat the clean water initiative in 2008. It’s the same tactic that was used to defeat the recycling initiative clear back in 1978. Whatever else, it’s tried and true.
Don’t fall for it.
There is nothing scary or catastrophic about the Save Our Salmon Initiative, no matter what Ex-Gov Murkie thinks. The initiative doesn’t “severely restrict” anything. The initiative imposes accountability for those who want to develop resources that might endanger wild salmon. That is, after all, what the Alaska Constitution requires. What’s scary is the amounts of money being spent by international mining groups to try to defeat the initiative. It’s over $7.2 million already. Teck Alaska and Donlin Gold – which wants to build the world’s biggest open-pit mine in the headwaters of the Kuskokwim River – have each dumped more than $500,000 into the opposition campaign. If you think that international mining companies care about what happens to Alaska’s salmon you’re living in a dream. They care only about getting the minerals out as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Murkie says, “We need better biology on the food chain for salmon.” What? Does he mean better biological data? What does that have to do with protecting spawning habitat? Murkie says we need more hatcheries. What part of “wild salmon” doesn’t he understand? And there are decades of failed attempts to substitute hatcheries for healthy spawning habitat across the Pacific Northwest, including here in Idaho. The unnamed Canadian biologist who recommended hatcheries is either a shill for the mining industry or very seriously behind on reading his professional literature. Or Murkie is simply lying about it.
Murkie complains about herring populations being down. Yeah, that’s a problem, but, again, what does that have to do with protecting spawning habitat?
Murkie boasts in his opinion piece that “Some of us have been here long enough to remember the days before statehood, when the Department of Interior regulated our salmon fisheries and they did a poor job.” It’s interesting that Murkie puts his personal credibility in issue. Because the thing is, Ex-Gov Murkie, some of us have been around long enough to watch your career. You’ve never met a major industrial project, however awful, that you didn’t like. Alaskans voted on your credibility when you ran for re-election as governor. Remember? You had a 19% approval rating at the time. The results speak for themselves.
And Murkie closes his “opinion piece” with the claim that “groups like Stand for Salmon, … would bankrupt our state if the initiative passes.” Note that in his conclusion the risk has gone from “could” to “would.” And note that his extraordinary claim is still completely, totally unsupported by a single shred of evidence.
Don’t let the mining industry scare you this time. Protect Alaska’s wild salmon. Get the facts. And vote “Yes” on Stand for Salmon.
- Ask Sitnasuak Native Corporation what they think of Frank Murkowski’s decision to invest Sitnasuak’s assets in Alaska National Bank stock. If you’re feeling really frisky, ask them whose stock it was that they bought. ↩
- You might wonder why the Anchorage Daily News even gives Murkie a platform. The Binkley family owns the News now. The Binkleys and Murkowskis are neighbors. Not best friends; Johne Binkley ran against and beat Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary that made Sarah Palin governor. ↩
- WC would love to ask Murkie if that would be like Bering Straits Native Corporation’s bankruptcy. Which Bering Straits blamed on really bad investment advice from Murkie and the late bank. Oh, wait, states can’t file bankruptcy. More proof, if you needed it, that Murkie doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ↩