Excerpt from Chad Kister’s upcoming second edition to Arctic Melting:

How Climate Change is Destroying One of the World’s Largest Wilderness

Areas with Common Courage Press.  Release October 27, 2008.


With someone so beholden to the oil industry, it should not

be a surprise that a jury found Senator Ted Stevens guilty of

failing to report gifts by the oil company Veco, for which Stevens

has worked to give massive contracts.  The verdict followed an

investigation by the FBI and IRS for allegedly accepting oil industry bribes

for political favors.

Oil consulting firm Veco hired contractors that more than

doubled the size of Stevens’ home in 2000. On July 30, 2007,

FBI agents arrived with a locksmith at about noon at Stevens’

Girdwood , Alaska home, near the base of the ALYESKA ski

resort. Half a dozen federal agents parked at the house, with about

10 more federal vehicles parking a few blocks away at the ski


They had the blinds down while they searched the house,

and one carried out a black trash bag of stuff. One FBI agent told

media that they were investigating whether Stevens’ paid for

the work, and whether it was a bribe. The IRS is investigating

whether Stevens accepted monetary benefits without paying taxes

on them.

Ted Stevens’ son, Ben Stevens, allegedly received $284,000

for phony consulting fees from Veco while he was the state senate

president. Four former Alaskan legislators are charged with being

bribed by the oil industry. Veco CEO Bill Allen, who oversaw the

work on Ted Stevens’ house, plead guilty in May, 2007 to bribing

state legislators. He has agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Alaska ’s only Representative, Don Young, is also under

investigation. Veco allegedly held “the pig roast” fundraisers for the

representative, and gave Young $157,000 through their employees

and political action committee between 1996 and 2006.

Young talks like an oil company. On May 18, 2006 he lied

to the House of Representatives in a successful effort to oppose

a global warming resolution that had passed the Senate. Young

said that other countries burn as many barrels of oil as the United

States burns today. In fact, the U.S. burned 20.6 million barrels of

oil in 2005, while the second largest user, China , burned less than

7 million barrels. Young also said polar bears are increasing in

numbers, another lie that is well documented earlier in this book.

My First Personal Encounter With Ted Stevens

After backpacking for two weeks in the Arctic National

Wildlife Refuge in August, 2005, my bush pilot landed on the

familiar airstrip for the Inupiat village of Kaktovik on Barter Island

in the Arctic Ocean . The police officer for the town approached

our plane and asked the pilot how the weather was, because the

Senator was flying in. I asked which Senator, to which he said Ted

Stevens. I rushed to get cleaned up as fast as I could, then went

Kister Melting update 2008 222 5/20/08 3:58:05 PM

Chapter title 223

over to the meeting at the community building.

Stevens held the meeting to try to show support for oil

drilling, but he found quite the opposite. I entered the meeting,

and Senator Stevens was talking to citizens.

I shook his hand and said I had just returned from the refuge

two hours ago, and that the area needed to be protected from oil


Stevens said, “son, I’ve been working to open up that

area since before you were born.” In fact, Stevens spoke for the

protection of the coastal plain area when he was a state senator in

the 1950s. It was only when he got close with the oil industry that

he changed his stand on drilling in the area.

His aids then tried to push me outside. I said no, this was

a public meeting, and that I would stay. I then tried to take a

photograph, and even though the rest of the people were allowed,

the Senator said that no, I would not be allowed to take a photo

because I was not media. I said I was media, that I was writing

articles for the Yukon News, and also books and was working on

a documentary.

I sat in the front of the meeting. As the Senator said that

the 1980 legislation stated that the 1002 area would be opened

to oil development after study, I began to shake my head in

opposition. That legislation in fact said the area should either

remain as wilderness, or be opened to oil development with a

future Congress needing to make that decision after studying the

issue: a big difference. The Senator then stopped his talk and said

that he would have me removed if I continued to shake my head.

This is blatant intimidation. While I did stop shaking my

head, because I wanted to cover the meeting and not be forcibly

removed, fearing it would harm my video camera and 25 hours of

footage for my Caribou People film, this action was very wrong. It

showed the tyranical and abusive nature of a Senator that does not

understand the democratic process of the United States , instead

acting as a dictator that everyone must follow.

While he spouts misinformation about how the residents

of Kaktovik supposedly are all in favor of development, in fact

Robert Thompson told the Senator he had a petition with 60

names on it opposing development. With 98 votes cast in the 2004

election, this is a majority of the voting public in the small village.

This shows that the oil proponents’ argument that the Inupiat in

Kaktovik are in favor of oil development is not true.

At the end of the meeting, I said the Arctic National Wildlife

Refuge needs to be protected, and we need to save the bowhead

whale (which would be harmed by the proposed offshore

development). I was then forcibly pushed out of the meeting by

Secret Service Agents and the same police officer that I had seen

at the airstrip.