Senate Reaffirms Commitment to Alaska’s Statehood Rights; Rejects Amendment Demanding Alaska Receive 90% of Royalties As Promised
April 18, 2018
SR 9, sponsored by the Senate Resources Committee, urges the protection of Alaska’s right to manage its own lands and waters, in accordance with federal laws such as the Alaska Statehood Compact Act, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
“This resolution seeks to resolve what I would consider unfinished business, supports an ongoing relationship between the federal government and the State of Alaska on land use, and proposes solutions to longstanding problems interfering with Alaskans’ rights,” said Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole). “Our interests in mining, timber, road building and subsistence, are all being eroded because the federal government is ignoring the provisions of key compacts with the State of Alaska.”
The resolution urges implementation of recommendations made by the Citizens Advisory Commission on Federal Areas through its legally impaneled subcommittee, the Alaska State Lands Advisory Group (ASLAG), in its June, 2017 report. The group was established in 1981 to inform Alaskans affected by land management. The recommendations include federal funding for the Alaska Land Use Council; support for filing a petition; advancing federal conveyance of land to state ownership; and expeditious resolution of uncertainty related to Alaskans’ rights on navigable waters, submerged land and RS 2477 rights-of-way.
The resolution passed the Senate on April 14, 2018 by a vote of 16 to 3.
Also on Sunday, Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) introduced an amendment to SR 9, relating to management of public land and resources in the state, that demands the federal government adhere to the Alaska Statehood Act, which provides that the state receive a 90 percent share of all bonuses, royalties, and rentals under leases received by the federal government for exploration and development for mineral leases, such as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Wielechowski's amendment failed 8 to 11.
"What we are asking for is to get what we were promised at statehood, which is our promised 90 percent share," said Sen. Wielechowski. "I'm disappointed the Senate Majority refused to take a strong stand on this important issue, which could cost the state billions in promised revenue."
Last year Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and President Donald Trump signed it into law in December 2017. It contained provisions to allow for oil exploration and development in ANWR. But it shrunk Alaska's share with the federal government for ANWR bonuses, royalties, and rental proceeds from 90 to 50 percent.
"When the Outer Continental shelf lease sales went out, the federal government received $3.2 billion for those lease sales, and Alaska received nothing," said Sen. Wielechowski. "We need to do everything we can to demand Alaskans get our rightful share under the Alaska Statehood Act. It is expected that when ANWR does go out for lease, the bonus could be extraordinary."
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Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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