No Decisions Made on Coastal Management Program

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The legislature is heading into the last three weeks of this year’s session – and there’s concern over the time it will take to fix the coast management program. Two ideas have been presented in bills – one, a six-year extension without any changes to the development and permit-coordinating program, the other with a simple one year extension. Without an extension, the program will be forced to completely cease operations by July first.

Both of those bills are still in their first committees of reference. And only one of them – the governor’s six-year extension – has been heard by legislators.

That bill has been heard seven times by the House Resources Committee where co-chair Eric Feige wants an extension for as long as possible. He says changes can be dealt with later.

But supporters of the coastal management program want it made stronger.

That’s Bethel’s Senator Lyman Hoffman who says there’s still time this year to change the system, and at the most, he sees the program will only need another year to finish work on the extension.

Bush Caucus chairman Reggie Joule of Kotzebue also says there’s no reason to separate the extension from the changes. He says there’s time – and delay will not accomplish anything.

House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula agrees there’s time for change this year. She says it’s in the best interest of various developmental industries such as oil and mining to have a strong, working management program.

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