Groups form association to fight ballot measure

FAIRBANKS — The director of the Alaska Miners Association says coastal zone management as proposed by a citizens initiative would wreak havoc on the industry.

Deantha Crockett said Tuesday her association has joined with the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the Resource Development Council for Alaska to form No on Ballot Measure 2 to fight the initiative. Voters will cast ballots on it Aug. 28.

The initiative would allow appointed officials to influence certain state permits, Crockett said, and possibly kill major development projects.

“We’ll have a program where one person can shut down a project,” she said.

The initiative would establish a modified version of a 35-year-old program that expired last summer when the Legislature and Gov. Sean Parnell could not agree on how to extend it.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, chairman of the Alaska Sea Party, the organization of municipal officials and others promoting the initiative, said the measure will cut through red tape, not create more.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the initiative would establish a modified version of a 35-year-old program that expired last summer. The coastal zone management program ended when Gov. Sean Parnell and state lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on extending it.

Alaska is the only coastal state in the U.S. that has not joined the federal coastal zone management program.

Botelho, a former Alaska attorney general, said the old program provided a venue for local, state and federal officials to discuss issues affecting coasts and co coordinate permitting.

Federal officials have mandate to participate without the program, he said.

The initiative would create the Alaska Coastal Policy Board. It would highlight areas of local concern, Botelho said, would not replace Alaska permitting agencies.

Four state agency commissioners and nine locally nominated public members from each state region would make up the board.

“This sense of individual veto power, I think, is much overblown,” Botelho said.

The initiative was sought because lawmakers showed “little enthusiasm” for new version of the program last session, he said.

“We urged the Legislature to move on a bill, and we made clear that their focus should be on passing a bill,” Botelho said. “It didn’t need to be ours.”

Crockett told the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce that the miners association does not oppose a coastal management program but wants a more development-friendly version.

“The initiative is very unfair to industry,” Crockett said.

The lieutenant governor’s office, following a requirement on initiatives passed in 2010, has planned 10 hearings around the state on the measure. The first is July 2 in Soldotna.

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