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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Happy holidays!

This will be my last e-blast before the legislative session ramps up in Juneau in about a month’s time. Here’s what’s been going on this month:

Alaska is the new…Oregon?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it…rain.

Baby, it’s…NOT cold outside. Forget the gloves. Never mind your hat. This isn’t your typical Alaskan winter weather. In fact, we’re breaking heat records across the state this December. Anchorage has been warm and rainy. Utqiagvik’s (Barrow’s) weather station data were flagged as bad due to the dramatic temperature hikes. Last Friday, it was colder in Jacksonville, Florida and Monterrey, Mexico than it was in Juneau.

Scarier still is that this doesn’t seem to be an anomaly, but a trend. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the Arctic is warming faster than it has for 1,500 years, roughly twice as fast as the rest of our planet.

We’re breaking records…but not ones we want to break. This rapid climate change hurts Alaska in many ways:  

  • It harms our primary industry by driving up the cost of exploring for and developing Arctic oil and gas resources—because the ice road season continues to shrink, unpredictable sea ice conditions challenge offshore operations, and melting permafrost causes spills.   
  • It literally undermines many Alaska villages (think erosion at Newtok, Shishmaref, etc.), making rural life much more difficult—and expensive—than it already is.
  • It challenges military operations, from Arctic training to submarine transit.
  • It has the potential to destabilize fisheries, one of Alaska’s largest industries, through ocean acidification and warming. Changes in salmon runs threaten Native diets and cultural maintenance, and changes in marine mammal migration could exacerbate that.  
  • It changes wildlife populations and behavior, affecting subsistence and personal-use hunting.
  • It erodes village landfills and tank farms, washing toxins into our aquatic environments.
  • It challenges the Iditarod and other competitive winter sports that bring tourists and dollars to our state.

But what can we do about it?

Well, I’m working on a bill (HB 173) that would fund a Climate Change Commission tasked with developing mitigation strategies across the state. My bill would create a supplement (both financially and in expertise) to Governor Walker’s recently-established Climate Commission in the event that a future Governor’s office dissolves the executive commission. My bill would enshrine a climate change commission in state law.

My commission would work with the Governor’s (unfunded) commission to identify researchers, non-profits, and other organizations working to protect our state from the harmful impacts of a changing climate and help fund their much-needed programs/projects. Funding for these projects would be derived from a surcharge of $0.01 per barrel on oil production. It’s fitting that those producing harmful greenhouse gasses, a major cause of global warming, should help ameliorate the problems.

The Governor’s commission would be made up of 20 members from across the state. My commission would consist of 11 members: the commissioners of Fish & Game; Environmental Conservation; Natural Resources; Commerce, Community and Economic Development; Transportation and Public Facilities, as well as the Director of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (responsible for community and regional affairs), and 5 members who represent municipalities across the state. We might find ways to meld the two commissions.

 As Co-chair of the House Resources Committee, I plan to push my climate bill come January. Last session, I got it through the State Affairs Committee, so we’re making steady progress. If you would like to offer support or testify at upcoming hearings, please contact my office (see contact info below)!

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 note that my office will be based Juneau from January 2018 until at least April 2018.

And as always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.

I Answer to You!

Andy Josephson[signed]
Please Contact Me!
1500 W. Benson Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99503
(907) 269-0265
(800) 465-4939
Contact Other Elected Officials
Governor Bill Walker
Senator Dan Sullivan
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Congressman Don Young

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Submit your 175 word letter to the Alaska Dispatch News, attn: letters to the editor
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