Recent news that Alaska’s coastal zone management program is dead in the water is disappointing on several levels.
The inability of lawmakers to work together for the overall good of Alaska will cost us dearly.
We gripe and complain that the federal government has too much to say about what we do in Alaska, and now our lawmakers are turning back the all-important coastal zone management program to them.
Sure, what is best for our state is keeping the program going even for a short time so lawmakers can posture over it until a new draft is proposed. But what’s even better is keeping the control local.
At the end of June lawmakers will hand over management of our coastal areas to the federal government.
Why? Again, it’s because the elected officials we hired and sent to Juneau can’t seem to arrive at a compromise on this issue.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski recently made a point that hit home with us. She told an audience Thursday that Alaskans are up against a lot of misunderstanding from Outside about how we live.
We think the same is true for our stance on managing our coastal areas.
The National Coastal Zone Management is a voluntary partnership between the state and the federal government addressing coastal protection, restoration and development. Participating in the program gives the state and local communities a say in those areas.
However, the federal government will have a much greater say about what happens to our resources in just a few weeks. And, as Murkowski pointed out, do they really know best?
We doubt it.
For a state that complains so much — and for good reason — about the overreach of the federal government into our daily lives, ceding more decision-making control to the federal government is not at all what we sent lawmakers to Juneau to do.
The state House, in fact, passed a bill extending the coastal management program with a 40-0 vote, and indicated a willingness to accept some of the changes called for in the Senate.
But the Senate’s rewritten version failed twice in the House, and neither body appears willing to compormise further.
Well, if we can’t work it out for ourselves, if our lawmakers can’t come to an agreement, then we deserve what we get from the federal government — like it or not.
In short: Shame on our lawmakers for not getting together on an agreement for the coastal zone management program, and shame on us — after all, we hired each and every one of them.