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Alaska needs Ballot Measure Two's protections

Posted: August 25, 2012 - 11:07pm

Yet again, Alaska is forced to defend its rights to control its own resources against well-funded Outside interests. Alaska’s resources belong to Alaskans, and we must have a say in how they get developed.

In his 1955 keynote address to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, when discussing Alaska’s potential for resource development, delegate Bob Bartlett said, “The financial welfare of the future state and the well being of its present and unborn citizens depend upon the wise administration and oversight of these developmental activities.”

Nowhere is his cautionary statement better addressed than through coastal management.

Most of Alaska’s people subsist on or make their living from the state’s valuable coastal resources. Oil, gas, minerals, fish, whales and seals, wildlife, birds and berries, clean air and water are among the resources we value. Because many people use these resources, there are bound to be conflicts.

For 34 years, Alaska’s coastal management program helped avoid or resolve many of these conflicts. It worked by giving local communities a major role in planning for uses along their coasts. It provided a way to resolve conflicts and to state and federal agencies addressed local concerns in a cooperative and effective manner.

Politics killed our coastal management program in 2011, and it is unlikely the governor or Legislature will bring it back. And so it is up to us, the people, to restore our own voice.

Ballot Measure 2 is a citizens’ initiative that brings Alaska’s voice in coastal management back to Alaskans. It has been vetted and supported by almost 40 current and former mayors, legislators from both political parties, and highly respected Alaskans like Arliss Sturgulewski, Georgianna Lincoln, Tony Knowles and Vic Fisher.

Passage of Ballot Measure 2 means an effective role for Alaska’s communities when it comes to coastal development decisions. Outside Corporations don’t want a program that requires them to listen to Alaska’s communities. They think Alaskans’ insights and concerns are red tape to be cut through, not listened to, and they’re spending over $1.5 million dollars to confuse Alaskans into voting against our right to have a say in how our coastal resources are developed. That’s how much they value NOT hearing from Alaskans. We must not be fooled.

Alaskans must have a say about what happens in this wonderful place we live. Ballot Measure 2 gives us that voice by community representation on an Alaska coastal policy board, a board comprised of Alaskans who know our state, who live and work in our communities. Without it, the only say comes federal agencies and outside interest groups that don’t always share our values.

Ballot Measure 2 will help development by resolving issues early in the process, and helping applicants navigate state and federal permit systems.

The details of the program — statewide coastal standards, local district coastal plan criteria, and coordinated project reviews — will be established through a public process where all Alaskans will have a chance to participate.

Our coastal resources are valuable and they will be developed. Coastal management allows Alaskans to get what we need without losing what we have. It’s about figuring out what’s important and how to make things work. It’s about getting to yes, where everyone gets a share of the yes and businesses thrive.

Ballot Measure 2 lays the foundation for all of us to work together for a coastal management program that works for all Alaskans. Please vote YES on August 28th.

For more information, please go to YesOn2.com.

• Kerttula is a lifelong Alaskan and was formerly Assistant Attorney General for the Alaska Coastal Management Program She is currently Minority Leader for the Alaska House of Representatives and help found the Alaska Sea Party: Restoring Coastal Management.

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