ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A new report by conservation groups on Gov. Sean Parnell's plan to build roads to resource-rich parts of Alaska claims the projects will cost much more than most people realize.
The study comes at an important time, with lawmakers weeks away from making a decision on next year’s budget.
The study's backers, including The Wilderness Society, oppose building long roads across the Arctic tundra -- but they say this issue is not so much about the environment as it is about making wise use of state money.
Parnell’s “Roads to Resources” proposal would build or improve passages to areas of the state where geologists think there are unreached caches of minerals, oil, and gas. For example, a new road to Umiat could link the Dalton Highway with petroleum deposits in the foothills of the Brooks Range.
The Parnell administration and the Legislature have already directed $25 million into the Umiat road project, and plan to add another $10 million to continue planning in 2013.