Begich Statement on Cook Inlet Critical Habitat Decision
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement on the critical habitat designation for Cook Inlet:
"While I am pleased NOAA exempted the Port of Anchorage, as I requested, I am still very concerned designating 3,000 square miles of critical habitat for beluga whales could be crippling to Alaska development.
"The decision is unjustified by science or economics. The designation could stall or shut down projects from the Mat-Su to Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula. NOAA is still trying to tell Alaskans this designation will only have a small ripple effect on the Southcentral economy. Unfortunately, it could be a bore tide.
"Alaskans take their environmental responsibility seriously and have taken steps to protect beluga whales. As mayor of Anchorage, we took aggressive steps to halt industrial discharges into the sewer system and collect household hazardous wastes. We teamed up with NOAA and local businesses to implement projects to protect and restore our coastal environment, like a $6 million project at the Anchorage Wastewater Treatment plant which led to an EPA determination the plant is not affecting belugas."