Community Organizers challenge Governor: Natural Gas and Nuclear Energy are Not Sustainable

Date: June 1, 2022

ANCHORAGE – Governor Dunleavy hosted a three-day conference last week,
dubbed the ‘Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference’ was a mixed bag. Keynote speeches
featured oil and gas executives, breakout room topics included everything from heat pumps to
natural gas, and calls for bipartisanship were followed immediately by hyper partisan attacks,
misrepresentation of climate science, and pandering to natural gas, nuclear companies and

On the first day, while industry executives inside rallied around un-sustainable false solutions,
community members gathered outside of the Dena’ina Center to directly call out these issues
within the conference. “We’re here to provide a counter-narrative, because natural gas and
nuclear energy aren’t part of a sustainable energy solution. Our communities know what
they need, and it’s clean renewable energy from sun, wind and water,” said Matt Jackson
of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

“A lot of great conversations and information were shared at this conference,” said Cook
Inletkeeper Energy Organizer Ben Boettger. “The announcement of a $200 million plan for
Railbelt transmission improvements was great news. And the growing deployment of rooftop
and utility scale solar, as well as progress toward tidal and geothermal energy, should be
cheered by all Alaskans. This was overshadowed, though, by a relentless greenwashing of
natural gas.” As Hilcorp Senior Vice President Luke Saugier himself put it from the main
stage, “when fossil fuel executives are on the stage, a sustainable energy conference
must be off the rails.”

“I am extremely disappointed in a true lack of racial representation and inaccessibility at
this conference. Our communities were excluded with the $300+ registration fee. Climate
science was completely misrepresented. Bills were signed as press events instead of in front
of Alaskan voters. The conversations that I had with fellow energy leaders and partners were
wonderful, but that’s not what was happening onstage. It was obvious that the Governor was
only interested in presenting natural gas and nuclear as our only path forward, instead of
directly addressing the root issues around transportation, workforce, accessibility, and
affordability within the energy and climate crises. This is not the Governor’s transition, this
is Alaskans’ transition. He needs to pause and actually listen,” said Alyssa Quintyne, Interior
Community Organizer with The Alaska Center.

“I was particularly bothered by the lack of diversity and equity in this conference. The
voices of people who are being most impacted by climate change were not heard in this
space,” said Kenzley Defler, Energy Justice Organizer at Fairbanks Climate Action
Coalition. “Our communities deserve more- more Indigenous leadership, more BIPOC
leadership, and more justice centered in every conversation around an energy transition.”
“Indigenous communities who are least responsible for Global emissions are the first to
experience the impacts of global warming. Those who are the most responsible for
expediting our extinction meet and agree on very reckless policies that use language
such as ‘Net Zero’ emissions and ‘Nature Based Solutions’ recognize these are cheat
codes that really mean business as usual,” said Panganga, Climate Geoengineering
Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network.

“Transitioning from one dirty energy to another is a losing economic strategy for Alaska as well
as harming the climate. Gas, nuclear reactors, and LNG are not clean and may be worse than
coal when the entire discovery-to-use chain is considered. As Keynote Speaker Tony Seba
noted, the world is moving away from gas, no one in the US is building new gas plants, and
there won’t be a market for gas beyond a decade. The clean energy superpowers – solar, wind
and batteries – have become dramatically cheaper and are rapidly transforming many aspects of
society including energy, transportation and food production. Alaska should look forward and
pursue meaningful solutions like renewables, rather than continuing to prop up a dying
fossil fuel industry that is wrecking the climate,” said Kay Brown, Arctic Policy Director,
Pacific Environment.

Organizers call for the Dunleavy administration to take appropriate and adequate action to move
our state away from fossil fuels. Natural gas is not sustainable, Cook Inlet reserves are
depleting, and the urgency of the climate crisis demands that we phase out investment in fossil
fuels immediately. Using wasteful, untested nuclear energy is not sustainable nor equitable.
Pandering to industry without an actual plan to help everyday Alaskans through the climate and
energy crises directly, is not just. Alaskans know what we need to lower our utility bills, avoid the
worst effects of climate change, and transition to a sustainable future. The answer is simple:
We need to prioritize major investment in clean renewable energy like solar, wind and
salmon friendly hydro to power our Just Transition.

The organizations mentioned above are working together to promote a clean, just and truly
sustainable energy future for Alaska.

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council * Cook Inletkeeper * The Alaska Center *
Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition * Indigenous Environmental Network * Pacific Environment