Governor's coastal management stance erodes Alaska's rights

Posted: Monday, February 28, 2005

Frank Murkowski came into office and immediately set out to remove Alaskans from decisions affecting coastal communities. Now, after bungling the process to revise the Alaska Coastal Management Program, he's blaming the federal government and claiming he's defending "states rights." But once again, Frank misses the mark. The federal coastal zone management law actually grants states more rights then they otherwise have without it. How? First, it provides money to state and local communities to implement their own local standards. By attacking this program, Frank is attacking decisions made by Alaskans, for Alaskans — not decisions made by faceless bureaucrats in D.C. or Juneau. Second, the federal law provides a powerful appeal process where states can challenge federal decisions affecting state and local interests. California used these very provisions last year to protect its coastal communities from federal intrusion.

Why is this relevant for Alaska? Among other reasons, there are efforts underway in Congress to allow fish farming in waters 3 to 200 miles offshore. But if Frank has his way, the state won't have a meaningful say in how the federal government manages our offshore waters. If you care about states' rights and local decision making, let the Governor and the Legislature know now. It's not too late to demand local control over coastal decision making in Alaska.

Bob Shavelson, Executive director, Cook Inlet Keeper, Homer

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