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Legislature Acts to Create Alaska Arctic Policy Commission


Sunday, April 15, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – The 27th Alaska Legislature today acted to help the state better prepare and position itself for growing Arctic activity and policy, passing a resolution forwarded by the House Finance Committee to create the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission.

The idea comes from a recommendation by the Alaska Northern Waters Task Force, which met over the past two years to examine how the state can work with stakeholders, other governments and interested parties to protect the state’s Arctic interests.

“Everything about the Arctic seems to be happening very fast – northern shipping routes, mineral extraction, oil and gas exploration, commercial fisheries, tourism and ecology, to name the big ones,” House Northern Waters Task Force Chair Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, said. “The new Arctic is about governance, and the Arctic Policy Commission provides Alaska the opportunity to act proactively in shaping an Arctic policy that balances economic development with healthy and sustainable communities so all Alaskans prosper.”

House Concurrent Resolution 23 creates the 20-member commission within the legislature to meet over the next two years to develop an Arctic policy for the state and a strategy to implement it. The commission would present its findings to the legislature by Jan. 30, 2015.

“This commission is very important for Alaska – Alaska needs to first delineate its own Arctic policy, so that we can be strategically involved and in a leadership role in the development of federal Arctic policies that will affect us the most,” Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, said.

The commission membership breakdown is:

-      Three senators selected by the President of the Senate

-      Three representatives selected by the Speaker of the House

-      One member of the executive branch appointed by the governor

-      13 members appointed jointly by the Senate President and House Speaker representing the following areas: the federal government, a tribal entity, the mining industry, the oil and gas industry, the marine transportation and logistics industry, a Native corporation organized under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the marine pilots, an accredited Alaska college or university with a background in Arctic science, fisheries, local government or a local government association, a coastal community, an international Arctic organization, and a conservation group

“Establishing an Arctic Policy Commission is the best way to ensure that a diverse group of Alaskan stakeholders will continue to advance the state’s engagement with these complex issues,” Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, said. “It will allow us to develop and implement a strategy that will protect and promote Alaska’s interests in what is becoming an increasingly international arena.”

HCR 23 passed the Senate by a vote of 18-2 and will now be filed with the lieutenant governor.

Copies of the AK Northern Waters Task Force Report are available at http://housemajority.org/coms/index.php?c=104

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