A view of Alaskan peak Mount Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley. In Alaska, 90 percent of the state budget relies on oil. 
A view of Alaskan peak Mount Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley. In Alaska, 90 percent of the state budget relies on oil.  - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

President Barack Obama is visiting the state that oil built Monday. He'll spend three days in Alaska focusing on the effects of climate change. A lot of those effects are most pronounced in the arctic and come from burning oil and fossil fuels. However, reducing the use of oil is a hard sell in a state that's so dependent on drilling and transporting it. 

In Alaska, 90 percent of the state budget relies on oil, and about a third of jobs can be traced back directly to petroleum, but the state is in some economic trouble. Alaska’s government assumed that oil would be selling for $105 a barrel this year, but it’s currently selling for $40 a barrel. That leaves the state with a big deficit problem.

A long-term problem is that oil production has fallen to a quarter of what it was in the 1970s. If the Trans-Alaskan pipeline flow gets too low, the oil has to be warmed up. This costs the state money and perpetuates a negative cycle.

“Warming melts the ice, which leads to more drilling, which leads to more warming,” says Marketplace’s Scott Tong.  

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Molly Wood at @mollywood