Legislation to re-establish a coastal management program in Alaska is back before the state House in Juneau., with eight House members, from both parties, co-sponsoring the legislation offered by Majority Leader Alan Austerman, R- Kodiak.
Meanwhile it appears that an initiative to establish a coastal management program for Alaska will qualify for a place on this year’s general election ballot.
Should legislators pass substantially similar legislation, the ballot measure could be pre-empted. Co-sponsors of the legislation to date include Representatives Paul Seaton, R-Homer, Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, Bob Herron, D-Bethel, Bryce Edgmon, D-Dilingham, Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, and Beth Kertulla, D-Juneau.
The old Coastal Management Program ended last summer after the Legislature could not come to agreement on some changes in the existing federally funded program.
Those backing the initiative feel that the state lost its legal authority when the old program ended to have a voice in natural resource extraction issues along Alaska’s 6,640 miles of coastline – issues ranging from mining to off-shore drilling for oil and gas.
In his sponsorship statement, Austerman said that with the initiative, Alaskans have sent a strong message to the Legislature that reestablishment of an Alaska Coastal Austerman said that with HB 325, residents can engage in dialogue to determine if there are elements of the initiative that should be corrected or clarified in order that the program as enacted best meet the needs and intent of Alaskans. With the initiative, he said, there would just be an up-down vote.
Austerman’s House Bill 325 is online at www.legis.state.ak.us.