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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

My office has been busy setting up shop in Anchorage for the interim. Some of the topics on my mind these days have been improving local infrastructure, sound environmental management, resolving our fiscal issues, and, of course, abating crime in our fair city.

 

Cruising through Alaska

 

Last week, I went to the Port of Alaska (formerly called the Port of Anchorage) to have a look at our infrastructure and get a glimpse into cruise ship environmental practices, thanks to the Zaandam’s hospitality in offering me a tour of their vessel.

 

The State of Our Port

Our port is notoriously aged. The Port of Alaska has even put out a little cartoon outlining some major port-related events and their impact on the structure.

 

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Some quick facts about the Port of Alaska:

  • Has been in continual service since opening in 1961, even after the 1964 earthquake.
  • Hosts 4 container ships per week, year-round.
  • Serves over 80% of Alaska’s population, providing us with just about everything we eat, wear, or drive.
  • Brings in about 74% of all waterborne freight and 95% of all refined petroleum products entering Southcentral Alaska.  
  • Is one of only 19 commercial ports designated as a Department of Defense Strategic Seaport.
  • Is considered an enterprise department under the Municipality of Anchorage--as such, it is distinguished from other types of municipal departments in that it creates enough revenue to support its operations, along with paying certain annual fees to the municipality.
  • Undergoes annual dredging by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in order to maintain the port’s 35-foot operational depth.
  • The total price tag to replace the docks will exceed $1 billion, but some of that will likely be paid by freight companies, the federal government, and/or lawsuit settlements.

 

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I’m pointing to a crack in one of the piles at the Port of Anchorage.

 

 

Touring the Zaandam

Given how popular Alaska cruises have become, it’s important that we strive for minimal environmental impact to ensure that this industry remains viable. The Department of Environmental Conservation has emission guidelines for air and water discharges, and so I decided to see first-hand how these ships meet our state requirements. Their recycling systems are high-tech and impressively efficient.

  



 

Of particular concern are ship emissions. MARPOL (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Annex IV has established limits on emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxides; in North America, we use Emission Control Area standards of 0.1% sulfur content. Given that most ships are unable to meet this standard—on account of older technology and retro-fitting is extremely expensive—cruise ships have mostly adopted the use of “scrubbers”.

 

An exhaust scrubber basically adds water to the exhaust fumes, which “scrubs” out much of the sulfur. However, this sulfur is then absorbed by the water and discharged into the ocean, rather than into the air. There remains debate on whether this is a viable solution, or if it’s merely transferring harmful pollution problem from air to water. Sulfur compounds can increase ocean acidity and negatively impact many sensitive aquatic species—ocean acidification is a growing global marine issue.

 

To see photos of the Zaandam, inside and out, check out this ADN article.

 

The Crime Bill is Signed into Law

 

Last week, the Governor signed the crime bill, HB 312, which I co-sponsored, into law. This bill will improve public safety, provide safer neighborhoods for Alaska’s families, and protect the state’s medical professionals.

 

Gov. Walker signs HB 312 into law on a sunny afternoon in front of the Anchorage crime lab

 

Here are the key takeaways from HB 312:

  • Ensures consideration of a defendant’s out-of-state criminal history in pre-trial release decisions
  • Strengthens pre-trial release assessment for those charged with vehicle theft and other felonies
  • Gives Alaska’s Attorney General authority to criminalize dangerous new controlled substances
  • Increases surcharges imposed for felonies, misdemeanors, and violations and puts the increased revenue into public safety funding
  • Provides much-needed tools to help police and prosecutors reduce crimes against our doctors and nurses while they’re providing treatment

 

Get Involved!

Upcoming Meetings & Events

 

Dowling/Seward Highway Interchange Reconstruction Open House

This project will complete the reconstruction of the Seward Highway over Dowling Road, and replace the current Dowling Road/Seward Highway interchange.  The goal is to improve safety, serve both motorized and non-motorized travelers, be cost-effective, and be easy to maintain.

When: Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 4-6 PM

Where: Dimond Center Hotel, 700 E Dimond Blvd

For more information contact Anne Brooks, P.E., Public Involvement Lead.

 

Community Councils are a great way to get involved and stay informed about issues going on right in your own neighborhood. If you’re interested in attending the community council meetings, you can find more information on the Anchorage Federation of Community Councils website.

 

Contact me

If you have a topic or event that you would like to see in my next newsletter, feel free to get in touch with me or my staff. Please make note that my office will be based in Anchorage until session starts up in January.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

I answer to you!

 

Sincerely,
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Contact Me
1500 W. Benson Blvd., Room 403

Anchorage, AK 99503
(907) 269-0265
(800) 465-4939

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Contact Other Elected Officials

Governor Bill Walker
907-269-7450

Email

Senator Dan Sullivan
907-271-5915

Email

Senator Lisa Murkowski
907-271-3735

Email

Congressman Don Young
907-271-5978

Email

Write a Letter to the Editor
Submit your 175 word letter to the Anchorage Daily News
Attn: Letters to the Editor,
letters@adn.com

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