Monday, January 17, 2011

Alaska CZM Issues 2011 - Remember that many CZM laws "sunset." That means that even if there are laws they go away after a designated period of time!

Steffen Schmidt
Prof of CZM

"Coastal zone management changes emerged as a major issue late in the 2010 session and will appear again in January. The proposal the North Slope Borough and some other coastal communities is pushing is to restore the program to something like it was before former Gov. Frank Murkowski brought the program under the control of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Previously communities along the coast had more ability to influence state decisions on development permits, which they argue has been lost now that the coastal management program is operated under the state DNR.

"I can't tell you where we'll be on it," Chenault told the RDC. "I know that my stance is the state can't give up its sovereignty anywhere."

Bills making those changes offered last year by Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, and Rep. Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, were strongly opposed by Parnell, who argued the legislation would have essentially given coastal communities the right to control state permitting decisions that affect development of state lands.

One area where state officials have dug in their heels is giving coastal municipalities or communities any authority to veto or change air or water quality permits issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Since the state issues these permits under guidelines of the federal Clean Air and Clean Water laws and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, any involvement of other entities in the approvals would complicate the permitting process, state Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Larry Hartig told legislators last year.

On the other hand, the clean air and water permit approvals are the kind of decisions coastal communities like the North Slope Borough want to be involved with.

The issue is almost certain to be joined again in the 2011 session. This is also the year in which the coastal management program sunsets, unless the Legislature extends it. Given that, some form of legislation is likely to pass. The question is whether it will be a simple extension of the current program or whether a substantial change will be made."

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