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Standing for Business



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Several weeks ago Jason Martin, Alaska Business vice president and general manager, strolled into my office with a handful of brochures, asked me to take a look them, and let him know what I think. Being the stellar worker bee I am, I picked up what I thought would be new marketing material or an interesting conference on the horizon, only to find they were all about Ballot Measure 1 (aka Stand for Salmon).

This request was surprising to me because, in the world of journalism as I’ve experienced it, it’s rare for a media outlet to take a public stance on a political issue. But as I read through the material, I became increasingly concerned and decided more research was in order. Fast forward to today and I understand why Jason wanted me to look at this ballot measure. Because it is far more than a political issue, it’s a business issue, and that makes it an Alaska Business issue.

Our mission is to provide a positive voice for business while championing economic growth through expert insight on business-related topics. We are proponents of Alaska’s business community, which is why the more I read about Ballot Measure 1 the clearer it is that, in order for Alaska Business to continue to fulfill our mission, we must take a stand against this initiative.

The group that brought the “Stand for Salmon” initiative to life is hoping to sway Alaskans to vote for a law change that would require the Department of Fish and Game Commissioner to deny permit applications for development in salmon habitat if the development is deemed to have a “significant adverse effect” on salmon and/or its habitat.

The group opposed to Ballot Measure 1—Stand for Alaska—is adamant that “Alaska needs tough policies that protect our environment, fish, and wildlife today and far into the future. And that’s why Alaskans are proud to have one of the most robust and comprehensive permitting systems in the world, as well as world-class fisheries management.”

Both sides agree salmon—a vital part of Alaska living—is valuable, and you’d be hard pressed to find Alaskans who don’t care about the state of salmon habitats. Including the Alaska government.

“Alaska’s laws include a section entirely dedicated to protecting one of our most important resources—fish. Since statehood in 1959, over eighteen new federal and state policies have been enacted to strengthen fish habitat protections. In addition, Alaska has added numerous regional protections that are unique to habitats and species, allowing for sophisticated policies that address the demands of each environment specifically. Every year, new bodies of water are added to the State’s protected fish habitat listing. Many regard ‘the Alaska model’ for fishery management laws and regulations among the strongest of all fifty states,” says the Stand for Alaska website.

Dave Marquez, former Alaska Attorney General, says, “If this initiative passes, it will impact any permit or permit renewal near fresh water on the assumption that all waters in Alaska are anadromous fish habitat.”

The tie to business? Ballot Measure 1 will make it more time consuming, costly, and (in some cases) impossible to acquire and renew the many permits needed to build and operate essential facilities such as airports, water treatment facilities, roads, bridges, docks, hydroelectric facilities, and other projects that already require extensive permitting from state and federal authorities.

Ballot Measure 1 is a business issue, a quality of life issue, and, could determine whether some Alaskans can even continue to make a living in Alaska.

I haven’t met a single person who believes Alaska companies should extract natural resources at any cost to the environment. Alaskans, whether they’re in the business of resource development or retail, have a deep love for this land and the wildlife that resides here. They also have the experience and knowledge to conduct business in an environmentally conscious manner—without Outside interests telling them how to do it.

In early August, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that Ballot Measure 1 can appear on the ballot in November once its unconstitutional provisions are removed, even with certain rhetoric removed; this measure is unreasonable and unnecessary. That is why Alaska Business is Standing for Business by saying no to Ballot Measure 1.

 

—Kathryn Mackenzie, Managing Editor, Alaska Business

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