Just Answers: Where Alaska US House candidates stand on developing Alaska’s natural resources

A path leads through a dense forest.
The Tongass National Forest is the largest temperate rainforest in the country. (Erin McKinstry/KCAW)

Forty-eight candidates are running in the special election to fill the rest of Congressman Don Young’s term. It’s the most candidates ever in one election in Alaska. First up is the primary. Ballots are out now and must be returned by June 11.

To help Alaskans sort through the dozens of options, we’re asking each candidate where they stand on the issues.

Here’s how they responded, in their own words, to the following questions on natural resource development:

Do you want to see … (Please answer yes or no. If needed, add an explanation of no more than 10 words.)

  1. Oil development on the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?
  2. Development of the Pebble Mine?
  3. A road built to serve the Ambler Mining District?
  4. The Roadless Rule apply to the Tongass National Forest?

Jay Armstrong (R):
ANWR? “YES, Alaska needs ALL of our lands/ resources back from Feds.”
Pebble? “Yes, Only if done responsibly with no risk to fisheries/ environment.”
Ambler Road? “Yes, I support ALL roads to resources and towns where possible.”
Roadless Rule? “Alaskas Statehood Act wasn’t Constitutional, or resulting Federal tyrannical control.”

Nick Begich (R):
ANWR? “Yes”
Pebble? “A scientific, lawful, and comprehensive process must determine this outcome.”
Ambler Road? “Yes”
Roadless Rule? “No”

Gregg Brelsford (undeclared):
ANWR? “Yes. Properly balanced with subsistence, environmental protection, and climate change considerations.”
Pebble? “No. Don’t put ancient Bristol Bay reds at even microscopic risk.”
Ambler Road? “Yes. Properly balanced with subsistence, environmental protection, and climate change considerations.”
Roadless Rule? “No. Limited exception – properly balancing subsistence, environmental protection, climate change considerations.

Chris Bye (Libertarian): 
ANWR? “Yes, it funds our universities and public schools.” 
Pebble? “No, not in its current configuration with difficult international accountability.”
Ambler Road? “For a US mining company accountable to US judicial system and fines? With access by Alaskans? Yes.”
Roadless Rule? “No, what if natives or other AK residents want a road?”

Arlene Carle (nonpartisan)
ANWR? “Yes. The North Slope proved we can develop resources responsibly.”
Pebble? “Yes.  Alaska’s resources belong to all  Alaska people, not just a few.”
Ambler Road? “Yes. Resources are our competitive advantage. Let’s develop them responsibly.”
Roadless Rule? “I support exemption. Selective forestation preserves forest health. Nature’s way destroys.”

Santa Claus (undeclared): 
ANWR? “NO. Protect the sacred. Defend the Arctic Refuge.”
Pebble? “NO. Protect Bristol Bay’s watershed and commercial salmon fishery.”
Ambler Road? “NO. A road threatens fish, game and subsistence way of life.”
Roadless Rule? “YES. And stop land exchanges in the world’s largest temperate rainforest.”

John Coghill (R):
ANWR? “Yes to oil development in the 1002 area”
Pebble? “Yes  Develop the Pebble mine”
Ambler Road? “Yes,  build the Ambler road”
Roadless Rule? “Repeal the roadless rule if possible, allow mineral extraction, and Hydro power in the Tongas National Forest.”

Chris Constant (D):
ANWR? “No, but would not oppose with local support/environmental protections.
Pebble? “No. Our fisheries are a renewable resource we must protect.”
Ambler Road? “Yes, to facilitate long-term local infrastructure and economic development.”
Roadless Rule? “Yes, but with exceptions for tribal access for traditional uses.”

Tom Gibbons (R):
ANWR? “Yes.”
Ambler Road?
Roadless Rule?

Al Gross (nonpartisan): 
ANWR? “Yes. I support environmentally responsible development of the 1002.”
Pebble? “No. Wrong mine, wrong place.  I support EPA 404c protections.”
Ambler Road? “Yes. I support responsible resource development that has local community support.”
Roadless Rule? “No.Tongass exemption will help build a sustainable economy in Southeast.” 

Andrew Halcro (nonpartisan):
ANWR? “Yes. But it’s a distraction and is not happening in our lifetime.” 
Pebble? “No. This is not the place for a mine.”
Ambler Road? “Only if the mining industry pays the cost.”
Roadless Rule? “No. The Tongass is big enough to allow for more logging.”

Ted Heintz (nonpartisan):
ANWR? “Yes, via directional drilling although there’s oil/gas elsewhere too.”
Pebble? “NO! I support ecologically sound development. Pebble isn’t ecologically sound!”
Ambler Road? “Yes, support domestic production, fight foreign exploitive producers like China.”
Roadless Rule? “YES! I support ecologically sound development. This isn’t ecologically sound!”

Don Knight (nonpartisan): (Blank email)

Jeff Lowenfels (nonpartisan):
ANWR? “Yes, if there is still interest.”
Pebble? “No, I am with Jay Hammond and Ted Stevens on this.”
Ambler Road? “Yes, it is mandated by ANILCA.”
Roadless Rule? “No, Southeast deserves an economy and that requires roads.”

Mike Milligan (D):
ANWR? “No to development in the 1002 lands of ANWR.”
Pebble? “No to Pebble Mine”
Ambler Road? “Yes with huge caveats on road use”
Roadless Rule? “Yes- NOLs got monetized, we’ll monetize carbon storage thru USDA.”

J.R. Myers (Libertarian): 
ANWR? “Yes, for national security during international crisis.” 
Pebble? “I oppose development of a Pebble Mine.”
Ambler Road? “I oppose a new road for the Ambler Mining District. 
Roadless Rule? “Yes, we need to continue to apply the roadless rule to the Tongans National Forest.”

Sarah Palin (R): 
Pebble? “If the science proves it safe, build the mine.” 
Ambler Road? “YES.”
Roadless Rule? “NO.”

Silvio Pellegrini (undeclared):
ANWR? “Yes. Must include all primary stakeholders in development.”
Pebble? “No. Work with the company to seek incentives to develop elsewhere for a Win-Win.”
Ambler Road? “Yes. Must include all primary stakeholders for the 20 miles of NPS development.”
Roadless Rule? “Yes and No. The Roadless Rule needs a revision to limit its geographic scope. Include all primary stakeholders.”

Mary Peltola (D): 
ANWR? “I support exploration guaranteed by ANILCA pending rigorous regulatory assessments and ongoing local buy-in.”
Pebble? “No, I unequivocally oppose development of the Pebble Mine.”
Ambler Road? “Yes, pending local support, usage restrictions, and environmental standards are met.”
Roadless Rule? “No, impacted communities should determine how to use their land.”

Josh Revak (R): 
ANWR? “Yes.”
Pebble? “The salmon fishery needs to be protected, and the regulatory permitting process should be adhered to.” 
Ambler Road? “Yes.”
Roadless Rule? “No.”

Tara Sweeney (R): 
Pebble? “Support a transparent, science driven process and oppose preemptive decisions.” 
Ambler Road? “YES.”
Roadless Rule? “Oppose executive decisions creating de facto wilderness that violate ANILCA’s “No-More” clause.”

David Thistle (undeclared): 
ANWR? “NOT personally.”
Pebble? “NOT personally.”
Ambler Road? “Local Residents.”
Roadless Rule? “Yes, unpaved to “control cut” for Recreation & Emergencies.”

Ernest Thomas (D):
ANWR? “No.”
Pebble? “No Danger to the last remaining salmon runs on earth is too great a risk.”  
Ambler Road? “l support the building of roads in Alaska under controlled conditions.” (Answer truncated to meet word limit)
Roadless Rule? “Forest management of this old growth forest shall be done via airal helicopter or balloon harvest.” (Answer truncated.)

Adam Wool (D):
ANWR? “ANWR leasing has already happened but it shouldn’t be expanded.” 
Pebble? no. bad location for mine.”
Ambler Road? “yes. Ambler has potential to move us to renewables.” 
Roadless Rule? “I support the roadless rule. It doesn’t pencil out for the Feds.”

Stephen Wright (R): 
ANWR? “We are the best and we can safely extract it!”
Pebble? “Develop Rare minerals here in Alaska, we do it best”
Ambler Road? “We need corridors and ambler would be a good start!”
Roadless Rule? “We need roads to timber, access and safety, add roads!”

Editor’s note: We’ve left answers mostly unedited. If candidates exceeded the word count we did not include the last sentence(s).

The following candidates are on the ballot, but Alaska Public Media has not yet received a response to our emails: Dennis Aguayo, Brian Beal, Tim Beck, Robert Brown, John Callahan, Lady Donna Dutchess, Otto FlorschutzLaurel Foster, Karyn Griffin, William Hibler, John Wayne Howe, David Hughes, Robert Lyons, Anne McCabe, Mike Melander, Sherry Mettler, Emil Notti, Robert Ornelas, Maxwell Sumner, Richard Trotter, Bradley Welter, Jason Williams and Jo Woodward.

RELATED: Where Alaska US House candidates stand on abortion rights

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

Previous articleAnchorage Assembly postpones vote on process for removing mayor
Next articleNo king retention on the Kenai River this summer