SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


S.881: Same Pig, Different Sunglasses and Wig
By Sandy Powers


June 17, 2010
Thursday PM

The proposed revisions of the rehashed Sealaska bill S.881 reflect but little difference from previous versions. Some of the selections of the high-value roaded timber got switched with other selections of high-value roaded timber. Parts of north POW were spared immediate impact but Edna Bay, Hollis, Thorne Bay and other areas were hit as hard or harder in return. Some brand new areas were added, such as two tidal energy sites and two geothermal sites. A hydroelectric site is still proposed for Josephine Lake. 190,000 acres of additional LUD-II style lockups on Kuiu, Prince of Wales, Kosciusko, Kupreanof and a couple other islands recommended by staffers, and no doubt SEACC are thrown in for good measure. How ironic - the very groups and politicians who call for transparency and public involvement now eagerly override those guiding principles when it serves their own personal interests. The revision claims new protection for karst, but the Forest Plan already identifies and protects karst. This politically motivated bill hatched up behind closed doors only panders to the special interests of a private corporation and foundation-funded green groups.

Murkowski yet seems to believe that she, her staffers, and Sealaska's management know more about land management than do federal agency scientists, the EPA, and State ADF&G biologists. She hopes that swapping out acre for acre of some forest in one spot will conveniently offset the clearcut of carefully juxtaposed old-growth reserves elsewhere, or at least shut people up. It really doesn't matter what happens to the environment and the public, as long as Sealaska gets what they came for.

There are numerous laws in place for the management of public lands. Unfortunately, Murkowski imagines that her unilateral land give-away is wiser and better thought out than the opinions of interagency scientists. The reason there is a public process in place is to prevent this very kind of abuse of political power and single-interest preference.

Other language in this bill regarding "Indian Country" and "tribal lands" still appears to leave the doors open to future manipulation by Sealaska. The truth is, this bill has very little to do with the entitlements owed under ANCSA. In fact, if it's so easy for Sealaska to over-ride ANCSA, NEPA, and a host of other laws for its own convenience and profit, there is absolutely nothing to prevent them from doing the same thing in another 30-40 years when they run out of goodies again. Basically this bill S.881 writes them a blank check, drawn on the accounts of you and I, the tax-paying public. And this is one pig we can expect back at the trough in another 30 years.

Sandy Powers
Ketchikan, AK

About: "35 year resident frustrated by hypocrisy and pandering to single interests by our congressional delegation."

Received June 16, 2010 - Published June 17, 2010



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