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Cold environments Case Study- Alaska Essay

Location

* State in the United States-international boundary with Canada to the east, arctic ocean to the north
* Largest state in United States by area, however least densely populated Economy
* GDP in 2007: $64,333
* Per capita personal income : $40,042, rank :15th in nation
* Oil and gas industry dominates the Alaskan economy
* More than 80% of states revenues derived from petroleum extraction
* Main export : seafood , agriculture represent only fraction of economy
* Largest employers:
* Providence health and services : 4000+ av. Monthly employment in 2010
* Walmart: 3000-3259 av .monthly employment 2010

History

* First oil claims in Alaska made in the 1890, noted oil sea pages on iniskin bay and cold bay- not pursued by Russians * 1898- first Alaskan wells drilled in Iniskin Peninsula * Alaska’s first productive oil drilling operation was at Katalla, on the Gulf of Alaska, south of the Copper River delta * In 1911 several new wells in the district began to produce significant oil, costs not big enough to justify extraction * In 1960, following the statehood of Alaska and the creation of the state natural resources agencies, oil companies bought exploration leases for work in Cook Inlet * The boom in economic development and population growth after the discovery of oil was immediate and still continues Types of Development in Alaska

* Oil and Gas industry- major oil fields developed along central north slope * Oil production accounts for 93% of Alaska’s unrestricted general fund revenues. * Since statehood, Alaska has received $164 billion in revenues from oil * Development in the fishing industry- sea provides endless harvest worth billions of pounds. Over 3 million lakes, 3000 rivers and 34 000 miles coastline- bountiful fishing regions in the world * Salmon fishing industry- worth $11 billion a year

* Provide thousands of jobs, long term economic engine * Pollock fishery- 1,252,000 million metric tons- 2.7 billion ponds annum * Seafood- top export commodity. 2009- 1.6 b dollars. Accounted for 50% states total exports. * Seafood processing accounts 71% of manufacturing jobs in ALK. * Fishing industry- generated 54 000 jobs- short seasonal * Mining- historically a cornerstone of alaska’s economy. Today, mining industry brings broad range of benefits- offering highest paid jobs in the state. * Produces zinc, lead, copper , gold, silver, coal

* Alaska’s 7 largest mines Provided more than 2,250 full time jobs of 9500 total mining ind jobs in state * Mining creates public revenue by paying state and local taxes * Help support local economies in both urban and rural Alaska. * Issues: spent $300 million on exploration last year * drilling costs and fuel expenses have risen sharply * Facts and economic impact-cumulative value of mining industry: $4.4 bil. 2011 * Minerals are the states second largest export commodity. Accounted for 31% of states export total- zinc and lead from Red Dog mine * Approximately 200 placer mines produced 70,000 ounces of gold, as well as platinum, in Alaska in 2011. In addition to Alaska’s active precious-metals mining industry, there were more than 120 active rock quarries, and sand and gravel operations throughout the state.

Pressures on Cold Environment

* Alaska is unique state- economic development in it’s remote, petroleum based economy- resembles oil rich developing nations than other US states * Realtively small size of the Alaskan economy can discourage production for local use. * Geography wise- their location is at a disadvantage. Difficult to transport oil to other countries * Trans Alaska pipeline

* Pipeline flows through natural biomes, upsets animal trails, carries potential of a devastating leak * Woodland destroyed- also people’s homes affected


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