By Renee Schofield
August 27, 2012
Coastal zone management is a voluntary program that gives coastal state residents a say with the federal government. In Louisiana and Texas, it deals only with erosion of dunes and things like that. But in Alaska, ultimately, it encompasses much more.
As offered to voters, the measure - at an estimated cost of more than $20 million over 5 years - would create three new, statewide bureaucracies with vast, undefined powers. The people in those bureaucracies would not be elected or required to have a shred of expertise in permitting or natural resources or anything else. They also would not be confirmed by the Legislature and would operate almost independently.
Their actions could cripple Alaska’s development of its natural resources. They could affect virtually every industry and facet of the economy in the state, from offshore drilling to Cook Inlet oil and gas, to fisheries and forestry and mining in Southeast Alaska. It is an affront to private property rights and could affect communities hundreds of miles from the coastline.
You would never know any of that if you listened only to its supporters. They sell this measure as a simple replacement for the state’s Coastal Zone Management Program, which sunset last year. While I believe the people that put this together did it in good faith, it is worrisome because the characteristic of, “This will help you to get a permit.” I don’t believe this to be true. Having been through the permitting process, I don’t see anything in Ballot Measure 2 that would have made the process more streamlined or better coordinated. I do think there is very strong potential for Alaska business to be hindered by this measure and new investments might well look for another place to do business.
Perhaps worse, Ballot Measure 2, the most complex ballot measure to go before Alaska voters, is only the beginning. If Alaskans unwisely adopt Ballot Measure 2, there remain hundreds, if not thousands, of rules and regulations to be hammered out. All of this will be decided down the road by courts and lawyers, long after voters have gone home.
Ballot Measure 2 is riddled with constitutional and legal problems, enough to guarantee a continuing stampede of lawsuits and court actions. It is inconsistent and ambiguous and it allows unelected officials working outside the public’s view to block progress. They could, as the measure currently is written, even decide how your cabin, or dock or commercial project must appear - or where you can build it.
None of this is good for Alaska, and especially Southeast.
We need to Vote “no” on Ballot Measure 2.
Received August 23, 2012 - Published August 27, 2012
Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:
Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.