As I’m writing this I’ve just gotten home from SEACC’s first post-pandemic board and staff retreat on Prince of Wales Island. POW has long been the front line of timber issues, and with recent comment periods on two-state timber sales, it’s still the epicenter of logging in our region. So it was an appropriate place to consider how climate change will affect SEACC’s work.
As I put it to the board last week, we could stop every timber sale, but if the planet keeps warming at this rate, the Tongass could all burn down in a hundred years anyways.
That’s why SEACC is pivoting fast to focus on regional energy and emissions issues. Last month I mentioned a campaign we’re leading with the Alaska Climate Alliance that will be focusing on several policies. This month I’m going to focus on one, in particular, the Renewable Energy Fund (REF). If you click one link in this email, please take a moment to sign our petition calling on the state legislature to extend the REF for another 10 years, increasing its appropriation and per-project funding ceiling.
For the last 14 years, the REF has created millions of dollars of renewable energy construction, saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel, and saving rural communities a lot of money. The next 10 years will be critical to getting rural Alaska completely off diesel, including Southeast communities like Kake, Angoon, Hoonah, Tenakee, and Yakutat. The REF is the very first place these communities look for funding, and is often the only source of matching funds necessary to unlock federal funds. Please take a stand for this critical state program, it’s not only a way to help our rural communities, but it’s also a small step toward addressing the climate crisis.
The catastrophic coast-to-coast storms over the last two weeks have driven home the need for urgent action. It’s disappointing to see elected climate deniers and big oil cronies in Alaska and Florida begging the federal government for bailouts when they have done so much to obstruct the very climate action that might have avoided supercharged storms like Merbok and Ian and opposed the very infrastructure funds that might have prepared coastal communities for storms like this. We must continue to center on the needs of the frontline communities suffering the most from these disasters (like by donating to the Western Alaska Recovery Fund), and we have to hold the politicians who have willfully ignored their needs accountable.
Despite all the climate obstructionism, there has still been a lot of good news on climate change recently, especially the incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act. If you’re curious how much money you could qualify for, the experts at Rewiring America have made this easy calculator. Also, we have an election coming right up! Make sure you’re voting and getting your friends to vote, for the best climate candidates you can find. If you’re looking for help with our local Southeast house candidates, check out our candidate questionnaire on SEACC’s state climate priorities!
Until next month!