Anchorage Protesters Demonstrate Against Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plans

(Alaska Public Media photo)
(Alaska Public Media photo)

Two protests against Shell’s plans for drilling in the Arctic this summer took place Thursday in Alaska.

The first was in Juneau during the early afternoon and later in the day a second protest was organized on a street corner in Anchorage.

Standing across the street from a Shell gas station on Northern Lights Boulevard, Gwit’chin Athasbascan Faith Gemmill of Arctic Village said she was there to support Inupiaq people and their subsistence rights.

“Their whaling way of life is what’s at stake,” Gemmill said. “If Shell drills in the Chukchi sea, it could be potential disaster for the people there.”

Xavier Mason represents the youth council for the Anchorage chapter of the NAACP. He said the permission given to Shell to drill in the arctic is a pivotal moment in Alaska’s history and shouldn’t be allowed.

“It’s not just Shell, but anyone, because look at the Gulf spill, that was crazy and if you do that here in Alaska where it’s more remote and a greater diversity of fish and whales and stuff like that and polar bears,” he said.

Mason said the risk of spills is too high.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori