NEWS: It’s Time to Plan for the Impacts of Global Climate Change in Alaska

Rep. Josephson Sponsors Legislation to Create the Alaska Climate Change Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2016

ANCHORAGE – Alaska is already experiencing damaging impacts from global climate change and the negative impacts are expected to intensify as the environment of the North Pacific continues to warm and change.  Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) plans to introduce legislation later this month to create a nine member commission to help develop a statewide climate change strategy. 

“It’s time to build on the significant work and research that has already been done to understand climate change and the impact on Alaska,” said House Resources Committee member Rep. Josephson.  “By bringing together stakeholders and experts, the state of Alaska can develop a strategy to adapt to the changing environment and mitigate some of the damaging impacts.” 

The Alaska Climate Change Commission would include climate scientists, members of the public, and representatives of state departments and divisions.  The commission would be tasked with making recommendations to prepare communities across the state for the effects of climate change and guide how the state of Alaska participates in regional and national climate change efforts.

“I anticipate the Alaska Climate Change Commission can help identify the best way forward so that Alaska and its people are informed and prepared for the coming changes to our environment,” said Rep. Josephson.  “Everyone acknowledges that there will be limited funding available.  However, that reality should not dissuade us from reaching consensus and planning for the future with the resources at our disposal.”

Rep. Josephson has pre-filed his legislation in advance of the start of the 2nd Session of the 29thAlaska Legislature, which begins on January 19th in Juneau.  Rep. Josephson is hopeful the bill will garner bipartisan support and will move quickly through the legislative process.  The bill lays out, in great detail, the membership and duties of the Alaska Climate Change Commission and requires the commission to submit an annual report to the governor and the Alaska Legislature.

In 2015, the EPA issued a “Clean Power Plan” that excluded Alaska from new carbon emission guidelines for electric generating power plants.  It’s anticipated that the Alaska Climate Change Commission could be instrumental in working with the EPA to develop acceptable emission goals that would meet the needs of Alaska’s over 200 small utilities while still protecting the environment. 

“The EPA’s rule-making treats Alaska and Hawaii as outliers, but the EPA will soon be making recommendations for us, as well,” said Rep. Josephson.  “We can’t bury our heads in the sand and hope that we get a free pass.  We must be ready to respond in the best interest of all Alaskans.”​​

For more information contact Rep. Josephson’s office at (907) 269-0265.

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