An effort to resurrect parts of a dead permitting bill was abandoned on Friday night.
Officials from the Department of Natural Resources had been working with Rep. Cathy Muñoz, a Juneau Republican, to attach land exchange language from House Bill 77 to a separate bill concerning land sales.
The exchange provision would have allowed the DNR to trade state land for private land, as long as the properties were of equal value or DNR determined the exchange was in the state’s best interest.
The Department of Natural Resources pitched it as an uncontroversial part of a very controversial and recently abandoned bill. When HB 77 was under consideration, the land exchange portion got scant attention compared to sections on water reservations, appeals, and general permits. But environmental advocates have now objected to the land exchange language, arguing that it removed public notice provisions and could allow for sweetheart deals for development projects.
With permitting bill dead, some provisions may be resurrected
Lawmakers Shelving Controversial Permitting Bill
As public testimony floods in, permitting bill’s future uncertain
Despite revisions, opposition to permitting bill still vocal
Controversial permitting bill back for consideration
Tribal councils express opposition to permitting bill
DNR calls off public meetings for permitting bill
“Rather than short-cutting the process, we should take care whenever public lands and resources are being traded away to a private entity,” says Lisa Weissler, a former assistant attorney general who opposes the language.
Rep. Muñoz had intended to offer land exchange language amendment to Senate Bill 106 either in a procedural committee or on the House floor. But when SB 106 came for a final vote on a Friday night, no amendment was offered.
Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash says the amendment was scrapped because of the immediate pushback.
“We were not going to ask anyone to take heat to do this, and there was a little bit of a heat generated by certain groups. So, no harm, no foul,” says Balash. “Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity in the future to look at some of these things, and specifically the land exchange piece, in a cooler time.”
Balash expects the language to come back next year in a standalone bill.
- A damaged traffic light prompted authorities to close lanes of Egan drive until repairs could be made. The light has been fixed.
- The window of a house was shot out in the Auke Bay area Saturday. No one was injured.
- The Walker administration has tasked the Southeast Conference to come up with reform recommendations for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
- At least 50 First Nations and tribes signed a treaty Thursday opposing tar sands expansion plans that they view as "a collective threat to our Nations."