State looks to fill coastal management void

The Parnell Administration is looking to fill the void left by the closure of the Alaska Coastal Management Program in June.

The program helped coordinate the local, state, and federal permitting process for development projects in coastal areas of the state. Last session, the administration and House Republicans fought proposed changes designed to make it more accountable to local communities, and the legislature failed to reauthorize the program.

State Division of Oil and Gas Director Bill Barron told the House Resources Committee this week (Tuesday) that the Department of Natural Resources has established a special task force to help developers navigate permitting issues. He says the administration has no plans to re-establish the old Coastal Management system. Instead, the task force is looking at modifying the Office of Project Management and Permitting – or O-Pump.

“What we’re trying to structure, recognizing that OPMP has worked very well, is there a way we could have – for lack of a better term – O-PUMP lite,” said Barron. “Something that a smaller company can use to help coordinate that. Is that a twist on ACMP? Maybe. It depends on how you slice the words.”

Bethel Democrat Bob Herron – who attempted to negotiate reauthorization of Coastal Management last session – asked Barron about the practical side of the administration’s work.

“Is O-PUMP lite going to be recognized by your federal counterparts?” asked Herron.

“That’s yet to be seen,” Barron said. “I believe part of that is how we structure it and present it. But we’ll find out.”

A citizens’ initiative co-sponsored by Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho that would re-establish an Alaska Coastal Management Program is currently under review by Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell’s office. Botelho says the program gave local communities input into projects proposed in their backyards, but it also helped developers.

“One of the great features of coastal zone management is the opportunity for basically one-stop permitting – the idea that all agencies would work together in terms of a streamlined permitting process and coordination, which now is lacking,” said Botelho. “And of course the second element which I think is of particular importance is that the federal government would be required to submit its plans for review.”

The proposed initiative was submitted to the Lt. Governor’s office October 7th. Treadwell will rule by December 6th on whether sponsors can begin gathering nearly 26-thousand signatures to put it on next November’s ballot.

The Department of Natural Resources will be back before lawmakers during the upcoming session.

Recent headlines

  • A satellite view of Western Alaska and the Bering Strait, taken Feb. 4, 2014. (Photo by NASA)

    Will Obama look north for his legacy?

    These are the days when a president turns to thoughts of legacy. As the months tick down on this Administration, President Obama has created a marine national monument off new England and last month vastly expanded one near Hawaii. Alaska interest groups are working to get his attention, too. Some want him to take bold action in the 49th State before he leaves office, and others are urging him to resist those calls.
  • Homer Electric Asssociation holds an informational meeting in Homer on September 28, 2016. (Photo by Shahla Farzan/KBBI)

    Homer residents question association deregulation

    Homer Electric Association held an informational meeting on September 28 to answer questions about the upcoming vote on deregulation. The meeting, which was held at Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, attracted more than 100 people. The overwhelming majority were HEA customers who expressed concerns about the consequences of deregulation.
  • Juneau’s Pat Henry, right, and Bob Banghart, left, performing as We’re Still Here in April’s festival. The two are the only musicians to have played at all 40 events.

    Museum curator returns to the stage for ‘The Snow Child’ production

    Bob Banghart is developing the musical score for the upcoming stage adaptation at Arena Stage in Washington D.C.
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton visited Carcross after a trip to Whitehorse. (Photo by Abbey Collins/KHNS)

    Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Yukon communities

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, were met by a large crowd, music and dancing in Carcross this week. They event was part of a larger tour around the Yukon after traveling through British Columbia. The visit focused on First Nations issues and culture.


Playing Now: