ACIAC Submits Final Climate
Change Report to the Legislature
Climate Assessment Commission
Ends 2-year Process to Address Potential Effects of Climate Change
March 17, 2008
The legislatively appointed Alaska Climate Impact Assessment
Commission released its final report to the Legislature and Governor
Palin's administration today. Representative Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage,
the Commission Chairman, said the report encompasses nearly two
years of activity to assess potential impacts on the state's
citizens, communities, natural resources, state assets, and its
"We are pleased with the outpouring of community involvement
in the process of preparing this report," said Rep. Samuels.
"Hundreds of Alaskans testified about conditions in their
communities regarding impacts they perceive or are experiencing.
The findings of this report will hopefully go towards effecting
policy decisions in all levels of state government; from the
local and municipal level all the way to the governor's office."
The Commission heard from public officials, tribal leaders and
the mayors of eight communities, among others, over the course
of six public hearings held across the state. In addition to
the public hearings, members performed a site inspection of Kivalina,
a Northwestern Alaska community under threat of coastal erosion
at the edge of the Bering Sea.
"The mission laid out in the charter passed in 2006 was
clear: help move the debate forward and focus on what the state
can do, within it's means, to help mitigate damages and start
shaping policy to put Alaska on track to face the coming changes,"
said Representative Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, the Commission's
Vice-Chairman. "We narrowed our scope early in the process
to prioritize our assessments in response to greater and more
immediate impacts like threatened villages such as Kivalina."
"With such a large and evolving issue like climate change,
with all of the emerging scientific data and theory, we focused
on concrete, everyday aspects that affect not only the state
as a whole, but individual Alaskans and their families as well,"
said Rep. Samuels. "We looked at issues more immediate to
the state's economy and the eventual responses by state agencies."
The Commission also focused on issues and impacts which have
received little statewide or media attention, but also requiring
public dialogue and professional consideration, such as potential
flooding, permafrost softening on community infrastructure and
state roads or assets.
The Commission found that with a warming climate also likely
will bring an increase in resource development and commercial
marine activities in the high Arctic. Shipping and tourism will
put added vessel traffic in the Bering and Chukchi seas, and
the Arctic Ocean. A variety of new regulatory regimes will be
needed to address cultural, environmental, marine safety, law
enforcement, and other interests on a local, state, and federal
"Protecting the cultural values and practices of the people
along our western and northern coastlines was factored heavily
into this report," said Rep. Joule. "Climate change
for rural and coastal Alaskans is something we cannot ignore,
and we must work in harmony among tribal and federal agencies
to make sure increasing potential commercial fishing and shipping
needs can dovetail with our diverse cultures."
The ACIAC was established by passage of House Concurrent Resolution
30 (HCR 30) in May 2006, and consists of eleven members; four
legislators and seven unpaid citizens. Together they represent
a wide variety of professional expertise and personal experience
in the areas of climatology, economics, community development,
arctic engineering, tourism, and resource development. Commissioners
worked on developing a comprehensive overview of the likely impacts
of climate change affecting Alaska, and recommendations to mitigate
that impact. The commission will also consider impacts upon publicly-owned
facilities and infrastructure, identify the financial implications
of climate change, and assess impacts on local communities.
The appointees are: Representative Ralph Samuels (R-Anchorage),
Chairman, Representative Reggie Joule (D-Kotzebue), Vice-Chairman,
Senator Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak), Senator Gene Therriault (R-North
The Public members are: Cpt. Bob Pawlowski (Alaska Fisheries
Development Foundation) - climatology/oceanography, Dr. Lance
Miller (Juneau Economic Development Council) - economic imoacts,
Stephanie Madsen (North Pacific Fisheries Management Council)
- fish/wildlife/forestry/land use, Dennis Nottingham (PND Engineers,
Inc.) - engineering/infrastructure & maintenance, Caleb Pungowiyi
(Maniilaq Association) - community impacts, Michael Hurley (Conoco-Phillips
AK) - resource extraction implications, and John Shively (Holland-America
Line) - tourism.
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