NEWS: Legislation Filed to Respond to Climate Change in Alaska

New Commission Will Work to Monitor Climate Change and Secure Federal Funding

March 10, 2017

Juneau – The Co-chairs of the House Resources Committee, Reps. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) and Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), have filed legislation to respond to climate change in Alaska.  House Bill 173 would create a new commission made up of elected city and borough officials from across Alaska and several state department commissioners.  A primary duty of the Climate Change Response Commission would be to assist rural communities and non-government organizations to secure funding to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.  The Commission would also be tasked with seeking out grants and other forms of financing.

“Billions of dollars are being spent worldwide to respond to climate change but Alaska is missing out on much of that money because we don’t have the basic infrastructure in place to assist communities and cover upfront and matching costs,” said Rep. Josephson.  “In addressing our significant fiscal challenges we can’t ignore the long-term implications of climate change on our economy, our fisheries, and the unique way of life in Alaska.  This bill sets up a structure to begin a coordinated response, which is the responsible thing to do since the Arctic is experiencing the negative effects of climate change at greater rates than almost anywhere else on earth.”

Since 2013 the federal government has spent around $38 billion on climate change research and response.  Global climate change financing is estimated at around $392 billion a year.

Besides seeking funding, the Climate Change Response Commission would also monitor climate change in Alaska, coordinate with the University of Alaska, advance green technology, and seek ways to reduce greenhouse gas emission in both the public and private sectors.

“We can no longer ignore the fact that climate change is real and exacerbated by human activity,” said Rep. Tarr.  “We can use a tiny fraction of our oil wealth to make sure that Alaska is prepared for the negative impacts of climate change and able to respond accordingly.  We can no longer ignore the coming reality.”

The Climate Change Response Commission would be funded by a one cent surcharge on every barrel of oil produced in Alaska, just like the funding mechanism for the Spill Prevention and Response Fund (SPAR).  That fund has taken in $12 million a year for the last four years.  Similar to the SPAR fund, the Climate Change Response Fund will have a limit of $50 million after which the surcharge will not be collected.

HB 173 was officially introduced this morning and referred to the State Affairs, Resources, and Finance Committees.    

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.


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