Alaska Editorial: Breaking backlog

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

Gov. Sean Parnell’s intent is to eliminate the backlog holding up business in Alaska.

Toward that end, he proposes changes to the Alaska Land Act and the Alaska Water Act.

The changes are spelled out in Senate Bill 26.

SB26 calls for efficiencies and improvements for the state permitting process and other authorizations sought by the business community.

Key among them is authorizing the state Department of Natural Resources commissioner to rule on permit applications, deeming activity proposed in an application appropriate for permitting. The commissioner would decide whether an activity is unlikely to cause significant and irreparable harm to state land and natural resources.

The bill steamlines the procedures for obtaining, issuing and appealing permits, leases, best-interest findings, and other authorizations pertaining to land and water and issued by DNR.

It also simplifies the procedure for DNR to authorize land exchanges and reform the appeal process, improving the efficiency and clarifying who has standing to appeal.

This bill is designed for Alaska’s economic growth.

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