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Port of Anchorage Response to Critical Habitat Designation for Cook Inlet Beluga Whale

Dec. 1, 2009
Anchorage With the release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposed designation of critical habitat for the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale today, the Port of Anchorage remains concerned with the impact the designation may have on commerce and national security in the Cook Inlet.  The port is still reviewing the proposed rule. “The Port of Anchorage is one of the most significant commerce facilities in the state of Alaska.  Ninety percent of the goods that come to Alaska enter through the Port of Anchorage and we are a Department of Defense Strategic Seaport.  We are carefully reviewing the proposed rule for critical habitat designation and looking at the potential impacts on business at the port, as well as how it will impact our service and responsibilities to the military in Alaska,” Port Director Bill Sheffield said. It is yet to be determined what impact the critical habitat designation will have on the progress of the expansion project currently underway at the Port of Anchorage. “We have worked closely with NOAA and other federal agencies already on the permit conditions for the expansion project.  There are already at least 25 permit requirements related to the protection of whales and habitat that we meet,” said Sheffield.  “We just don’t know if additional requirements are going to be added.  If so, it will likely drive up the cost and delay completion.” NOAA released the proposed rule today and will be accepting public comments until January 31, 2010. ***

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