Tuesday, September 30, 2008

High energy costs make natives flee rural Alaska

The rising cost of energy in rural Alaska is causing residents to move to urban communities. State government tried to alleviate some of the pressure by giving them a $1,200 check from the Permanent Fund, the state's oil and gas trust fund for natives, but many are using that money to move.

"The main evidence of the migration is enrollment in Anchorage schools, which have seen more than 400 new Native students since school started," report Julia O'Malley and Kyle Hopkins of the Anchorage Daily News. "Middle income people in rural Alaska, who make up about 60 percent, are currently spending 12 percent of their money on energy, compared to that group in Anchorage, who are spending just over 3 percent."

In an attempt to stem the migration, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich and School Superintendent Carol Comeau sent a letter to Gov. Sarah Palin asking her to organize an emergency task force. The letter states that Anchorage and Alaska "cannot stand by and tolerate the deterioration of rural Alaska." Palin, preparing for the vice-presidential debate in Arizona, has not responded to the letter. (Read more)

No comments: