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Resolution Opposing Unnecessary Critical Habitat Designation in Cook Inlet Introduced

(JUNEAU) - A resolution calling on the federal government to protect the economy of the Cook Inlet region was introduced in the Alaska House Jan. 27 by Representative Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage.

House Joint Resolution 40 opposes the proposed critical habitat designation for 3,000 square miles of Cook Inlet. The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering the designation a way to protect Cook Inlet beluga whales.

"The only thing a critical habitat designation will accomplish is to harm the region's economy," said Rep. Millett. "It will drive up the cost or even prevent development for the oil and gas industry, our commercial and sport fishing industries and the planned expansion at the Port of Anchorage."

A critical habitat designation could also require the Municipality of Anchorage to spend at least $400 million to meet new wastewater treatment requirements. That could triple the monthly bills for Anchorage Water and Wastewater customers with no benefit to the whales.  

The National Marine Fisheries Service concluded years ago that an unsustainable harvest caused the decline in the beluga population. The beluga numbers are now increasing thanks to a new harvest management program put in place in 2000.

HJR 40 will be heard by the House Resources Committee.

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