Consultants Debunk Myth that Arctic Refuge Residents Need Drilling for Survival

Kaktovik, Alaska, July 21, 2005 – The Treasure America Project (TAP), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting sound economic policy in the United States, found local entrepreneurship to be the most effective means to ensure ongoing prosperity in Kaktovik, Alaska. The study, completed this month in the small Inupiat community that sits closest to the threatened lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, discredits industry lobbyist claims that oil drilling is essential to the survival of native communities.

An anti-drilling petition submitted by 57 of Kaktovik’s 188 adults this April illustrates the growing displeasure of residents with the oil industry and their desire for new economic activities. TAP worked with local residents to identify what type of new businesses could succeed in this remote arctic community. “The first seminar that was held with local residents identified eighteen new business opportunities, including a local guiding company, a crafts shop, a taxi company and a greenhouse operation offering fresh produce to the region,” explains Andrew Smith, Executive Director of TAP and international economic development consultant. The consulting team does not suggest that new local businesses immediately replace oil industry funded jobs in the community. Instead, the team demonstrated that local businesses could absorb 5-10% of the workforce each year on an ongoing basis with the appropriate support from existing native corporations and government. This approach gives natives a strategy to transition from the temporary jobs offered by drilling to an economy that can endure.

Fiscally conservative Americans are recognizing that drilling in the Refuge is the not the best economic strategy for the country. “At a national level, improved vehicle efficiency will put money into the pockets of average Americans while drilling in the Arctic Refuge will put money into the pockets of the oil industry,” says Hunter Lovins, an advisor to the project and co-author of the book Natural Capitalism. “At a local level, drilling in the Refuge further weds native communities to the whims of the oil industry and does nothing to stimulate real private sector innovation.”

The Treasure America Project is an initiative of Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization promoting innovation, sustainability and economic prosperity world wide. Since the spring of 2005, the Project has worked to address key obstacles to reducing US dependence on oil. The Project team draws on decades of professional experience promoting competitive enterprise development in rural communities in the United States, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.


For interviews with project leaders or more information on the Treasure America organization please contact Emily Leary, Program Manager at [email protected] or by phone at 303-941-2795.

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Helping communities over-dependent on oil: Kaktovik, Alaska

During the summer of 2005 the Treasure America Project went to the village of Kaktovik, Alaska to analyze the economic consequences of oil industry dependence and opportunities to promote increased local entrepreneurship.
Invitation for Citizens of Kaktovik.
Seminar Flyer [PDF].
Trip report [DOC].
Website for local guides.

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