NEWS: Guttenberg Endorses Coastal Initiative


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Program Gives Local Citizens Voices in Development Decisions

Alaska Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) today endorsed Ballot Measure No. 2, which would re-establish Alaska's coastal management program. Guttenberg emphasized his support of coastal management in a letter to constituents. He urged Alaskans to join him in voting for Ballot Measure No. 2 in the August 28, 2012 Primary Election.


"This coastal management ballot initiative is the best way for Alaskans to have a say in how we want our coastal lands and waters treated," Guttenberg said. "This is how we develop our communities. This is how we keep the upper hand against the federal government. This is how we plan best for a sustainable future."


The previous coastal management program operated successfully for over thirty years. Many projects, including North Slope oil and gas exploration and production, large-scale mines, docks, harbors, and housing developments were established through the coastal management process. After a political stalemate allowed the program to expire, and the Alaska Legislature failed repeatedly to renew it, Alaskans launched a citizens' initiative to bring it back. That initiative comes to a vote August 28, 2012.


"Coastal management enabled interested parties to come together and resolve potential disputes before they became lawsuits," Guttenberg said. "When a project begins with communication instead of confrontation, everyone wins – and that's what the coastal management program is all about."


The enabling federal legislation was signed into law in 1972 and then-Governor Jay Hammond spearheaded the effort to establish an Alaska version of the new program.


"That's one of the beauties of coastal management," Guttenberg said. "Congress recognized that Maine is different from Florida and Texas is different than Alaska, and the law allows each state to build the program that best fits each state's specific needs. If a program is in place the feds have to abide by the state's provisions. That's a unique granting of power to each state, and we gave it away when the program lapsed. I want Alaska to have that power back."


Much of Alaska's natural resource wealth is located in coastal regions. Development of those resources is important to both local Alaskans and the entire state. For example, oil and gas development on the North Slope and in Cook Inlet creates significant local impacts but also yields huge statewide benefits.


"The program is important to all Alaskans," Guttenberg said. "Coastal management has never stopped a project; to the contrary, it coordinates regulatory agencies and facilitates thoughtful, defensible, beneficial development. We need that if our communities are to not just survive, but thrive. Alaska's coastal management program is a proven mechanism for state and federal agencies to recognize and abide by Alaskans' concerns."


Recent reports on the sources of initiative opponents' funding concern Representative Guttenberg. The vast majority of opposition funds have come from large corporations, especially oil and gas companies, headquartered outside Alaska or even outside the U.S. "I'm concerned that these huge corporate entities will essentially buy the election and overwhelm the voices of genuine Alaskans," Guttenberg said. "It's just not right that a million and a half dollars from Outside should be allowed to completely overshadow the views of real Alaskans trying to mount a grassroots effort."


The coastal management initiative is sponsored by the Alaska Sea Party, a group of municipal officials, local leaders, and interested voters committed to Alaska involvement in coastal development decisions. More than 33,000 Alaska citizens signed petitions to place the issue before voters statewide. Voters will decide on Ballot Measure No. 2 at the Alaska Primary Election on August 28, 2012.








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