The U.S. Supreme Court usually comes down on the side of "states' rights" and when it doesn't it raises a few eyebrows. Recently, the court rejected the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's efforts to weaken standards designed to protect Alaska's air quality. Every Alaskan should thank the federal EPA's Alaska Operations Office for creating a level playing field for industry and defending our right to breathe clean air. But, undaunted, ADEC is at it again.
This time the Murkowski Administration wants to build bigger state government, increase state general fund spending and cut pollution standards for big corporations. How? By taking over expensive and complicated water quality and wetlands permitting programs from the feds. This is odd timing, when Murkowski is trying to rob the Permanent Fund to pay for existing state services. Given the U.S. Supreme Court's edict, DEC is ill-equipped to implement these programs any better than the feds. And most importantly, this ADEC boondoggle will cost untold millions to implement. At a time when the state is staring down the barrel of a looming fiscal crisis - and when local school districts are clamoring for much-needed cash - can't the Murkowski Administration think of a better use for our limited state resources?