Effort to Revive Alaska’s Coastal Management Program Reaches Alaska’s First City
January 05, 2012
The initiative is sponsored by the Alaska Sea Party, a group of municipal officials, local leaders, and interested voters committed to Alaska involvement in coastal development decisions. It is endorsed by the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Aleutian-Pribilof Islands Community Development Association, the Alaska Conference of Mayors, the North Slope Borough, United Fishermen of Alaska, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and many other individuals and organizations.
City and Borough of Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho chairs the Alaska Sea Party’s steering committee. He filed the initiative along with Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman Mako Haggerty. Mayor Botelho will be in Ketchikan Friday and Saturday to help collect signatures.
“When the Alaska Coastal Management Program was eliminated, Alaska became the only state to weaken its oil spill prevention and response requirements,” Botelho said. “Alaskans don’t want another Exxon Valdez disaster, and they’re tired of the political bickering that killed the very program that could prevent a similar tragedy.”
Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council Subsistence Committee Chairperson, Rob Sanderson, is supportive of the initiative. “The Alaska Coastal Management Program gave local people a powerful role in decisions affecting important resource development projects,” Sanderson said. “We lost that role last year and we want it back.”
“I hope every KIC member – and every citizen in the Ketchikan area – will join Mayor Botelho and me and come to the Plaza Mall on Friday and Saturday to sign the petition,” Sanderson said. “We want our voices back. Together, we can make that a reality.”
State coastal management programs and local coastal management plans guarantee state and local participation in coastal development decisions and a seat at the table during federal review processes. Alaska has nearly 40 percent of the entire coastline of the United States, but is the only state without a program to coordinate management of these important areas. Thousands of Alaskans live near the coast, but because Alaska doesn’t have a coastal management program, they have no voice in important decisions affecting coastal areas.
After operating successfully for 34 years, Alaska’s Coastal Zone Management Program died in 2011 when the Alaska Legislature failed to renew it during both the regular session and two special sessions called in part to restore the program. Without a program in place, federal agencies need not consult state or local officials on questions of coastal development.
If the petition is signed by some 26,000 Alaska voters, and if the Alaska Legislature fails to enact substantially similar legislation during the 2012 regular session, "An Act establishing the Alaska Coastal Management Program" will appear on either the August 2012 Alaska Primary ballot or the November 2012 Alaska General Election ballot. If voters approve the measure, the Act will create a coastal management program to replace the one dismantled last year.
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