Itta supports Arctic RCAC
Today the Senate Commerce Committee proposed including an Arctic Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council in the SHORE Act. “I applaud Senator Mark Begich for introducing this legislation and recognizing the risks and concerns facing our Arctic communities from activities related to offshore oil and gas development,” said North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta.
The Mayor said the Borough is not a stranger to development onshore where the Borough has had a successful partnership with industry for many years. “We have worked together to ensure that development does not impact the habitat and subsistence activities upon which we depend. Activities in the offshore are another matter, however, because of limited jurisdiction. Frankly, regarding offshore, all Alaskans are at a disadvantage when it comes to decisions made at the federal level because of the lack of access to decision makers. In effect, the Arctic RCAC gives us a seat at the table with the decision makers and provides the opportunity to get appropriate science and planning done in the Arctic,” Itta said.Mayor Itta expressed disappointment that Governor Parnell is opposed to an advisory council that provides the Arctic communities with a voice in matters directly affecting them. The Governor’s concern is that the RCAC would impose another layer of review and oversight. Itta said that “one of the many lessons we should take from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is that being vigilant should not be looked at as burdensome. The Prince William Sound RCAC was created after the Exxon Valdez spill. To me it makes sense that we have more involvement in decisions – not less – prior to going offshore. The last two years I’ve repeatedly asked for greater local involvement in the decision making process through the Coastal Management Program. My requests were consistently met with opposition. The reality is that the only way to solve this issue now seems to be through federal legislation.”