Local Officials Introduce Coastal Zone Initiative
Initiative gives Alaskans a say in federal coastal development decisions
Today, Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho held a press conference to introduce the citizens' initiative he and others filed late last Friday to ensure Alaskans have a say in decisions affecting their coastal zones. Because Alaska is the only coastal state without a coastal zone management plan, Alaskans have a diminished voice in decisions made by industry and the federal government that affect coastal communities.
"When the old program expired, Alaskans lost their say in how we manage our coastal resources. We introduced this initiative because Alaskans deserve a voice in what happens in our waters and industry deserves a predictable, streamlined process for developing Alaska's coastal resources," said Mayor Botelho.
Mayor Botelho, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman Mako Haggerty, and Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby sponsored the initiative to recreate a strong coastal management plan for Alaska.
When the Legislature and governor were unable to come to agreement to extend Alaska's previous coastal management program, it expired at the end of June leaving Alaskans without a process to give input into federal or industry coastal decisions. The initiative would create a new plan more suitable for Alaska, not bring back the old, controversial program.
"It was disheartening for us that the Legislature and governor were unable to reach agreement on a viable program extension," said Botelho. "Our initiative is intended to redouble their efforts to create a credible coastal management program during the 2012 legislative session. If they are unable to do so, Alaskans will have the opportunity to express their support for Alaska's coastal program that November."
Botelho said his group intends to collect the necessary signatures before the start of the 2012 legislative session. If they are successful, the Legislature would have the opportunity to pass a substantially similar coastal management bill. If it does not, then the initiative would be on the ballot in November 2012.
"Without a coastal management plan, Alaskans lose local control. This initiative would give Alaskans a significant say in how their resources get developed," said Botelho.