Econ 919 – Sale of commercial lease for the sale of art

The federal government is preparing to sell oil and gas concessions to Cook Inlet, covering approximately one million acres from the southern end of Kalgin Island to Augustine Island.

In the central Kenai Peninsula, there is another type of sale going on.

“I was talking with other artists, who all live around Cook Inlet,” said Kaitlin Vadla, regional manager of Cook Inletkeeper. “And we were like, ‘What can we do about this? And so we came up with the idea of ​​sort of symbolically canceling the lease sale instead of an art sale.

Vadla and four other local artists are printing their works on cards and selling them in assorted packs over the next week and a half to raise awareness of the pending sale.

She hopes the art will engage more people in what can be a difficult public process to follow.

“To be honest, it was kind of a response to the hustle and bustle and fullness of life,” she said. “There are so many things to watch out for and I felt like it was a bit in the weeds, you know?”

The oil and gas sale, Lease Sale 258, is a pending auction of over 200 plots in Cook Inlet to oil and gas companies.

The sale has been intermittent. The Biden administration halted the process earlier this year, as part of a larger executive order aimed at tackling climate change.

But it resumed this summer when a Louisiana district court judge ordered programs to continue in Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico. The judge sided with Alaska and 12 other states that the Biden administration’s decision was bad for economic development and bypassed the public process.

Now, authorities are seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact study for sale. Inletkeeper encouraged people to write about the potential impacts of increased oil and gas development on the Inlet.

Art and activism have long gone hand in hand on the peninsula. In recent years, local painters and fishing poets have used the art to draw attention to the proposed plan for the pebble mine in southwest Alaska.

The five projects participating in this art auction live on the Kenai Peninsula and have their own ties to Cook Inlet.

Like Valisa Higman. She is a paper-cut artist based in Seldovia, where she is also a member of the local oil spill response team. This team was born out of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

“Which is sort of my first memory,” she said. “I think I was about nine years old. So [it was] the first time anything outside of my immediate experience really touched me in this way, because it seemed like it was such an imminent thing for all of us in Seldovia. “

Higman said she was concerned about the impact the increased oil and gas development in the cove could have on wildlife.

Fauna is at the center of his work – colorful paper cups depicting a sea otter, wrapped in kelp, leaning against Mount Iliamna.

“We have a very healthy sea otter population in Seldovia Bay and you have a lot of close interactions with them,” she said. “I know them pretty well because I’m on my rowing boat all the time. But it’s not just otters. I think of all the seabirds, and there are so many wildlife in this area. that are so special and unique. And all of these animals would be affected. “

Other participating artists are Bonnie Bernard from Sterling, Amy Kruse from Kasilof and Liz Mering from Homer.

Printer Kenai Hannah Parker prints the cards, which will be sold online and at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio in Soldotna. Sales are submitted as donations to Inletkeeper.

Vadla said they are synchronizing the art sale with the public comment period for the oil and gas sale.

“The comment period ends on December 13 at 7:59 p.m.,” she said. “So this is the exact time that we close our art sale, to remind people to submit a comment to BOEM if they haven’t already.”

A lease sale in Cook Inlet is not guaranteed. The federal office that oversees overseas rentals has canceled rental sales in the past due to lack of industry interest.

Vadla said she believed it would be powerful for the agency to hear from residents.

“The observations and knowledge of the people in our home, this place, Cook Inlet, is really essential to get a big picture of what would be affected if there was a spill, if there was more development in there. Cook Inlet, ”she said.

Cook Inletkeeper will be selling prints and displaying originals in their Community Action Studio on the Kenai Spur Highway. They are also available on the association’s website.

Laura J. Boyer