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Towards energy sovereignty: biomass as sustainability in interior Alaska

Brewer II, Joseph P., Vandever, Shaylee, Johnson, Jay T.
Sustainability science 2018 v.13 no.2 pp. 417-429
Anthropocene epoch, biomass, business enterprises, corporations, diesel fuel, economic impact, energy, energy costs, fossil fuels, human resources, land tenure, oils, prices, renewable energy sources, summer, sustainability science and engineering, villages, Alaska
As the price of oil and gas fluctuates in the world economy, and the consequences of a global reliance on fossil fuels resonate in the Anthropocene, Indigenous communities in Alaska are making sustainable choices away from these enterprises. The overall economic effect of high fuel costs and varying land tenure status has put stress on remote Alaska’s mixed subsistence and commercial resource economy. These communities in Alaska pay at least two times as much for diesel fuel on average when compared to prices in the lower 48 states. As a result, Gwichyaa Zhee Corporation, a local Alaska Native owned company, is actively pursuing woody biomass as an alternative energy source in pursuit of energy sovereignty for the village of Fort Yukon, Alaska. This research was interested in what influenced the corporation to pursue biomass. To explore the central themes that promoted energy sovereignty, the authors interviewed biomass personnel and examined archival materials to inductively develop themes during the summer of 2015. These findings indicate that remote, rural Indigenous communities, like Fort Yukon, are not solely motivated by government policies that encourage decreased dependence and a transition away from nonrenewable energies. Rather, rural Indigenous communities implement alternative energy projects like this as a course of action towards their sustainable future development.