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Global climate pact on tap: Kenai mulls resolution changes

Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If the Kenai City Council chooses to sign the global climate change compact on Jan. 6, members will also be expressing support for an energy policy that promotes developing non-renewable and renewable energy sources. The policy aims to protect the state's economic and environmental futures.

The city council amended member Bob Molloy's resolution that called for Kenai to sign the Alaska Coastal Communities Global Climate Change Compact, adding the resolution also supports the "State of Alaska energy policy as proposed by the Tri-Borough Commission."

Comprising the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the commission proposed an energy policy in 2008 that addresses Alaska's "shrinking energy supplies" and "rising costs in the Southcentral region."

"If not addressed now, these energy issues risk the future economic health of the Southcentral region and Alaska," the commission's report states.

The commission laid out a 10-point energy policy for the state to consider that strikes a balance between protecting Alaska's economy and developing alternative energy sources.

The policy that the commission proposed in 2008 will: promote the development of nonrenewable and renewable energy sources; reward energy efficiency; promote energy security for the state's economy; seek solutions to address global climate change; allow market forces to divide development and use of energy sources; and reduce the dependence on foreign energy by meeting the state's energy demand through resource development while contributing to the national energy supply.

Some of the policy's goals are to: encourage Alaska to immediately adopt the proposed policy, encourage additional drilling in Cook Inlet, create a more efficient permitting system to allow the state to explore nonrenewable energy source exploration in the Railbelt region and to develop natural gas storage strategies to reduce the possibility of supply interruption.

The policy also calls for the state and the Railbelt to achieve 30 percent of its energy from renewable, zero-fuel sources by 2018 and to reduce Railbelt's residential electricity and gas use by 10 percent by 2020. Then entire proposal can be found on the Tri-Borough Commission's Web site.

Molloy said he does not see the Tri-Borough Commission's policy conflicting with the climate change compact.

"The compact itself does not take any nonrenewable energy sources off the table," Molloy said Tuesday. "The Tri-Borough Commission policy proposal is part of what the state of Alaska is considering. That plan also talks about nonrenewable as well as renewable energy."

Council Member Joe Moore, who spoke out against the resolution at the council's Dec. 16 meeting, said he could "probably" support a resolution that endorses the Tri-Borough Commission's energy policy proposal, but he will not support a resolution that endorses the climate change compact.

While Moore said Kenai had good representation through former council member Rick Ross in writing the commission's proposal, he does not believe the city has reason to sign the coastal communities climate change compact. Moore said he believes the compact supports cap and trade legislation, because it calls for policy makers to take "immediate" action against human-induced climate change.

"The city of Kenai has a long history with oil. To endorse a compact that asks for increased taxes to our local industry is wrong," Moore said Tuesday.

The compact itself says that legislation should be enacted at the state and federal levels that "fund initiatives that will dramatically increase energy and the production of renewable energy." It also calls for utilizing a "significant portion of the proceeds from the national cap-and-trade legislation, carbon tax or other sources to fund initiatives in Alaska."

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey, who was not mayor when the Tri-Borough Commission was formed, said he continues to see value in the commission and its collaborative efforts in all areas. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed a resolution on its consent agenda in September that allowed the borough to sign the climate change compact.

While Carey was not involved with drafting the commission's 2008 energy policy proposal, he said: "We agree that the state has a need for a comprehensive energy policy."

Molloy said he sees the compact as a call for action regarding climate change and he sees the commission's proposal as a part of what that action might look like. Molloy said the commission's proposal has never before been on Kenai City Council's radar.

"The city had never been asked whether or not they supported it," Molloy said.

Andrew Waite can be reached at andrew.waite@peninsulaclarion.com.



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