Until its expiration in June of 2011, the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP) provided a single point of coordination for state and federal permits with coastal environmental impacts, many of which affect state and local economic development projects. In addition, the ACMP program strengthened the ability of Alaskans to influence federal permitting decisions and provided access to federal funding for coastal impact projects.
While in some ways the ACMP added another layer to the permitting process, it also had the ability, when properly managed, to serve a valuable coordinating function. For that reason, most in the private sector generally supported renewal of the program, provided that it was a “clean” renewal that did not establish onerous new requirements.
Last year, the Alaska House of Representatives authorized renewal of the program with House Bill 106 on a unanimous, bipartisan vote and sent it over to the Senate for consideration. The version that passed the House was a “clean” renewal that, with only minor changes, simply extended the existing ACMP program.
In the Senate, however, amendments were made to the House bill that increased the uncertainty of the permitting process, allowed for the consideration of unscientific evidence and strengthened the ability of local organizations to kill important statewide projects. The Senate thus departed from the goal of a “clean” renewal. As a result, the House rejected the amended bill.
A conference (negotiating) committee was appointed by House and Senate leadership, and a compromise bill was drafted. However, the compromise was not sufficient for a majority of House members and came too late to prevent shut-down of the program. Therefore, it failed in the House on a tie vote.
To date, the issue has not been taken up again by either the full House or Senate.
Organizers in Kodiak, the Kenai Peninsula and Juneau collected sufficient signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot this August. Called Ballot Measure 2, this version of the ACMP would introduce new uncertainties and delays to an already complex state and federal permitting process and would, therefore, make it more difficult to permit projects onshore and offshore Alaska.
Prosperity advocates concerned about rural economic development should Vote No On Ballot Measure 2. To learn more, go to: www.votenoon2.net.
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