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ACIAC Submits Final Climate Change Report to the Legislature
Climate Assessment Commission Ends 2-year Process to Address Potential Effects of Climate Change on State


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 economy.

"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 level.

"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 Pole).

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.


On the Web:

Commission's report,


Source of News:

Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission
Alaska State Legislature


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Ketchikan, Alaska