Dr. Steve Konkel teaches Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in the College of Business and Public Policy at UAA. He’s published a statewide inventory and economic assessment of wind generation as well as studies of the impact of climate change in Alaska’s NW Arctic Borough.
Konkel holds a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from University of Colorado, a master’s degree in city planning from Harvard and a doctorate in environmental policy and conflict resolution from MIT.
Konkel presented Alaska Decision Making 2018: Research, Analysis and Politics at the UAA bookstore on Oct. 24.
“I served as a legislative aide for the House Special Committee on Energy in the 29th Alaska State Legislature in 2016. I had a lot of lessons that I learned there,” Konkel said.
Konkel’s presentation of climate change and conservation in Alaska is backed by the state’s history and its origins.
“You can’t really understand Alaska without understanding the territorial days,” Konkel said.
Alaska’s resources belong to the people and should be utilized to the maximum benefit of the people, he said. However, Konkel believes Alaskan residents have a great responsibility to make sure the resources are managed in perpetuity.
He is an advocate for an energy policy and points to Alaska’s reliance almost entirely on oil as problematic. Konkel drew parallels between CEO’s of oil companies and their relationship to their stockholders compared to leadership in Alaska.
“I’m the CEO of the state of Alaska, and you’re not ripping me off. I’m doing what’s best for the Alaskan people, and I’m not going to apologize for that. Exxon Mobile doesn’t apologize that they have stockholders they have to get the best return for,” he explained in an analogy.
Konkel has seen firsthand how a non-collaborative effort can be detrimental for the well-being of the people.
“I think that not having any interest in bipartisan solutions is very destructive for getting the best overall budget,” he said.
He also pointed to legislatures’ attitude towards alternative energy. The legislature sees alternative energy as an expense and something that costs money rather than an investment that will prove lucrative as time goes on.
The matter of alternative energy, budget and decision making in Alaska is complicated; however, it’s not insurmountable. Konkel advocates for a civically engaged community that is informed on the issues and where their representatives stand on those issues.