This editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Government permits don’t get much respect. They’re seen as something that stifles the economy and something that keeps people in the private sector out of work and people in government employed. They’re seen as a device that some people or groups might attack as way to derail a project.
Permits represent, to many people, government overreach.
To others, though, they represent vital safeguards.
Wherever you fall on the subject of government permits, there should be general agreement that it is worthwhile for Alaska to review its permit procedures. The state’s departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Conservation, and Fish and Game are all reviewing their permitting procedures in an effort to improve efficiency. This is being done at the direction of Gov. Sean Parnell.
The review process is in its early stage. You can submit your comments and ideas online to the Department of Natural Resources, which also will be holding a series of public meetings later this year to get additional public comment.
Government has a difficult task. It must encourage economic development yet protect the world in which we live. Sometimes those two items get out of balance — permitting can become so restrictive it hinders development. Likewise, permitting can become too loose, allowing for unacceptable harm to our environment.
Taking a look at the state’s permitting system is a good thing. Alaska needs to know it has a balanced permitting system.