|Nickname||The Last Frontier|
|Governor||Sean Parnell, R|
|Senator||Lisa Murkowski, R |
|Senator||Mark Begich, D |
|Ratification of Constitution/or statehood||January 3, 1959|
|Motto: North to the Future|
Alaska became the forty-ninth state to enter into the United States of America in 1959. Alaska is not contiguous to the rest of the United States, bordering Canada's Yukon Territory and province of British Columbia to the east. Its capital is Juneau.
Alaska's territory was purchased from Russia in 1867 by the Johnson administration for 7.2 million USD; its vast oil and gold reserves have more than repaid the investment that was once ridiculed as "Seward's Folly.", after William H. Seward who was the Secretary of State that negotiated the purchase.
Politics of Alaska
Alaska is a Republican stronghold with a libertarian streak.  George W. Bush carried the state 59%-28% in 2000, 61%-36% in 2004, and John McCain 59%-38% in 2008. The legislature is controlled by Republicans. In 2008 Mark Begich became the first Democrat elected to Congress from Alaska since 1974.
Alaska's economy consists of three main sectors. Firstly there is mineral resources, in the form of oil and coal and gold and silver and a variety of other metals. Secondly there is commercial fishing, primarily salmon, king crab, halibut, grey cod, and pollack. Finally there is federal spending, Alaska receives more federal spending per citizen than any other state, getting about two dollars in federal spending for every tax dollar sent to the IRS.
Alaska has vast energy resources but low energy demand. Major oil and gas reserves are found in the Alaska North Slope (ANS) and Cook Inlet basins. The Alaska North Slope contains 14 of the 100 largest oil fields in the United States, and two of the largest natural gas fields. The North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay field is the largest oil field in the country. Substantial coal deposits are found in Alaska’s bituminous, sub-bituminous, and lignite coal basins. Alaska’s numerous rivers offer some of the highest hydroelectric power potential in the country, and large swaths of the Alaskan coastline offer wind and geothermal energy potential. The oil and gas industry dominates the Alaskan economy, and production activities drive state energy demand. Nevertheless, overall state energy demand is low.
Alaska is the second-ranked oil-producing state (after Texas), if output from the Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is excluded from the state totals. Nearly all of Alaska’s oil production takes place on the North Slope. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) transports crude oil from the frozen North Slope to the warm-water Port of Valdez, on Alaska’s southern coast. From Valdez, tankers ship the ANS crude oil primarily to refineries in California and Washington State. Those refineries are designed to process the intermediate, sour (high-sulfur) crude oil from the ANS. Alaskan crude oil production has been in decline since 1988, when output peaked at over 2 million barrels per day. However, experts believe that large oil and gas reserves in the state remain untapped, and some have called for the federal government to open more public lands, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for oil exploration and drilling.
Demand for finished petroleum products in Alaska is low. Although Alaska has six refineries, most of them are “topping” plants that strip away lighter products from the TAPS heavy crude oil stream for internal refinery use. State motor gasoline demand is primarily met by refineries in Kenai and near Fairbanks. The use of oxygenated motor gasoline is required in the Fairbanks and Anchorage areas during their winter months. Jet fuel consumption in Alaska is high compared to other States.
Due to harsh weather conditions that persist throughout most of the year, Alaska’s oil infrastructure is particularly vulnerable to weather-related accidents and disruptions. The worst accident was not weather-related, however. It occurred in March 1989, when the tank vessel Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef and spilled at least 260 thousand barrels of oil into the Prince William Sound (some estimates put the figure at 30 million gallons, or over 700 thousand barrels). The cause of the accident is at least partially due to navigation errors of fatigued crew members, some of who were allegedly drunk. Other factors contributing to the accident were navigational equipment failures, deliberate breach of navigational protocol, and an inadequate number of crew members on the vessel, and these findings led to new regulations and recommended changes in the oil industry, specifically with regards to transporting oil.
Notable People from Alaska
- Sarah Palin, former governor, GOP vice presidential nominee 2008, conservative leader
- Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz basketball player)
- Valerie Plame
“North to the Future” The motto was chosen in 1967 during the Alaska Purchase centennial and was created by Juneau newsman Richard Peter. The motto is meant to represent Alaska as a land of promise.
- Live image from Fairbanks, Alaska
- State of Alaska Home page
- State of Alaska Travel and Vacation Information
- See Energy Information Administration, State Report 2009
- Bluemink, Elizabeth. "Size of Exxon spill remains disputed." June 15, 2010. Anchorage Daily News. http://www.adn.com/2010/06/05/1309722/size-of-exxon-spill-remains-disputed.html
- Alaska Oil Spill Commission. "Spill: The Wreck of the Exxon Valdez: Implications for Safe Transport of Oil." February, 1990. http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/noaa_documents/NOAA_related_docs/oil_spills/spill_wreck_ExxonValdez_1990.pdf
- Reprint of pages 5-14 of the AOSC reference, in an easier to read form. http://www.evostc.state.ak.us/facts/details.cfm