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Time needed to review HB 77 changes

Posted: March 24, 2014 - 8:52am

I would like to encourage residents from the Kenai Peninsula to contact their legislator to urge them to table House Bill 77. Alaskans need a chance to review and agree with any changes that DNR or Governor Parnell has made regarding amendments requested by Senator Micciche. Senator Giessel scheduled a public hearing before the Senate Resources Committee on March 12. All meetings up to now have been held without any public or apparently Senate knowledge of any fixes by the Parnell administration to this bill.

While I appreciate Senator Micciche’s efforts to get citizen input to House Bill 77 even he states that his constituents have overwhelmingly opposed House Bill 77 in any form. Senator Micciche thinks that by making amendments to the bill, se the Alaskan citizens “will have to compromise on House Bill 77” and accept changes to our constitution by the Governor, DNR and the Legislature to our water rights. I don’t agree. This bill is being rushed through and does not benefit the public. It does however benefit corporations who wish to “streamline” read do away with our in stream water right reservations, public comment periods and right to object to projects proposed by corporations. It changes the standing definition for citizens to object to projects. The standing now states that if a person is negatively impacted they may appeal a decision under the new law the standing requires a citizen to show financial or physical harm in defining substantial and adverse harm. It does away with citizen’s right to reserve in stream water use. This bill also does away with important subsistence, drinking and habitat water quality. It takes away much of the citizen comment period.

The Alaska constitution protects natural resources for all Alaskans. It was meant to protect all uses and preserve the user’s interest in them. DNR was not set up to be a Czar system where only the Department of Natural Resource should determine whether or not a use is consistent with the intent of preserving Alaskan water rights. Please contact your legislator today and let them know that House Bill 77 does not work for Alaskans.

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