Taking Charge of our Coastal Destiny
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Did you know?
· Length of Alaska’s coastline: 6,640 miles.
· Length of US coastline (excluding Alaska and Hawaii): 5,089 miles.
· Remembering we are a coastal state with huge resources at stake: Priceless.
Consider the following:
Alaska has a longer coastline than all other U.S. States combined. Two of our largest industries, oil and fishing, are centered near our coastal areas. In many ways, Alaska’s future is closely tied to the rights we hold to coastal resources– as well as to the responsibilities we accept to manage these resources wisely.
There are two big issues before the Legislature impacting our coastal destiny.
1. International recognition of Alaska’s coastal rights. Did you know that the Chinese government has been sending ships for summer reconnaissance trips off our Arctic coast mapping the area’s resources and geology? Because the United States is one of the few nations who have not signed the Law of the Sea Treaty, U.S. claims beyond the 200-mile limit are not recognized internationally – giving China the legal right to explore.
If the U.S. joined 161 other nations in ratifying the Law of the Sea, Alaska could claim arctic resources potentially up to 350 miles out from our shores. It is critically important that we control our territorial waters and that we stake our claim before China beats us out.
Just this week, at the request of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska State House voted overwhelmingly to support a resolution urging the U.S. Senate to adopt the Law of the Sea Treaty. To date all of the world’s maritime powers and all arctic nations save the U.S have done so. It’s time we claimed Alaska’s coastal rights and have them internationally recognized.
2. Involving Alaska communities to shape our coastal future. Another big issue brewing in the legislature is the future of Alaska’s Coastal Management Program (ACMP). Since 1977, ACMP has been a powerful tool to help municipalities, including Anchorage, promote responsible development while protecting coastal resources. Starting in 2003, the state began to weaken the ACMP process – and even removed local consideration of any of air or water quality issues.
Right now ACMP is set to expire on July 1 this year. There’s a bill in the Legislature (House Bill 106) which would extend the process as well as make sure it is meeting state and community needs.
The bottom line for me is that local communities should have a voice – a way of ensuring that their concerns addressed – but should not have veto power over projects which have clear benefit to the state and nation.
I would appreciate any thoughts you have on either of these two big issues
I'm Berta and I'm still listening,
P.S. ALASKA PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND DEADLINE: The last day to apply for the 2011 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is March 31. Eligible Alaska residents may apply online: CLICK HERE. For more information call (907) 269-0370.