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House Acts to Create Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (HCR 23)

HCR 23 carries forward recommendation of the AK Northern Waters Task Force

Positions state for role in U.S. and circumpolar planning and governance

Wednesday, March 28, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House 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. “All other Arctic nations have an Arctic policy, except the U.S., and that’s us here in Alaska. The new Arctic is about governance, and the legislature just so happens to be in the governance business – it makes sense that we lead. But we can’t lead without finding out what our priorities are, which is why we’re creating this commission.”

House Concurrent Resolution 23 creates the 17-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

-      10 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, 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 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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

 

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