Begich Warns Coastal Zone Program Expiration
May 25, 2011
“Without an approved coastal zone management program, Alaskans will lose an important opportunity to influence federal decision-making in the oceans surrounding our state,” Begich said in a letter to Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, Senate President Gary Stevens and House Speaker Mike Chenault. “Federal authorities no longer would be required to ensure that their actions in areas such as aquaculture, oil spill response, forestry and mining are consistent with state policies, as the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) currently requires.”
Alaska has participated in the voluntary federal-state partnership under the CZMA since 1979 which ensures state and local interests are addressed in managing coastal resources, and requires federal actions to be consistent with state policies – but only if the state has an approved program.
“My area of greatest concern is how expiration of the ACMP will affect oil and gas development on the North Slope,” Begich warned. “The Deep Water Port Act requires a state to have, or be making progress toward having an approved coastal zone management program in order to build an off-shore, deepwater port in federal waters.
The gradual slope of the ocean floor off the coast of the North Slope requires one to go many miles offshore to reach water deep enough to accommodate the large, deep-draft vessels associated with oil and gas production and transportation. Without the ACMP, oil and gas operators will not have the option to develop an offshore deepwater port, which could significantly impair their operations.”
In addition to allowing the federal government to ignore state priorities for ocean resource use, Alaska will lose out on many other opportunities if the program expires:
This comes at an especially critical time for Alaska when progress is being made in convincing the Obama administration to proceed with Arctic offshore oil development to help address America’s energy and national security needs.
“If the ACMP is allowed to expire, the impacts to the state’s environment and economy will be severe,” Begich warned. “It is critical that Alaskans have a voice in federal decisions regarding ocean resource development and are well positioned to rapidly develop our enormous offshore oil and gas resources.”
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