Kerttula takes ocean policy job in Obama administration

Beth Kerttula resigned her seat yesterday for a fellowship at Stanford. (Photo by Skip Grey/Gavel Alaska)

Beth Kerttula resigned her seat in January for a fellowship at Stanford. Now she is director of the National Ocean Policy Office. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Former Juneau Rep. Beth Kerttula has joined the Obama Administration as Director of the National Ocean Council Office.

Since January, Kerttula has been a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions. She was appointed to the federal job on Wednesday and is already at work in Washington, D.C.

The job was announced in an email to her Stanford colleagues, where Kerttula has been working on ocean issues. She has described her role there as a conduit between state legislatures and science policy makers, bringing them together to discuss ocean policies. In that job, she had worked with the National Ocean Council.

President Obama established the council by executive order in 2010. Kerttula will lead the office that supports it.

Former Alaska Attorney General Bruce Botelho says it’s a perfect fit for Kerttula, who was a coastal zone management lawyer in the law department when Botelho was AG.

“Given her background as a lawyer for the state, her years of involvement with coastal zone management in representing statewide council, but also being intimately involved in developing the regulatory and statutory scheme, she has the clear legal expertise in the area,” he says.

Botelho says her political experience also gives her a unique perspective for the federal job.

Kerttula represented Juneau in the state legislature for 15 years. She authored the first cruise ship pollution legislation in Alaska. In her last term, the district grew to include Petersburg, Gustavus and Skagway. During her tenure she served on several national boards dealing with environmental and coastal policy, including the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission.

Kerttula will be in the National Ocean Policy job for a year, with the option of continuing through the end of Obama’s term. Botelho says it can only benefit Alaska.

“I expect that Beth, not only having the responsibility of translating national policy around the country including to Alaska, will be serving as someone who can convey the issues that are directly impacting Alaska and what that means for the country as a whole,” he says.

Alaska boasts the largest coastal area in the U.S., but is currently the only state that does not have a coastal management program. In 2012, Kerttula worked on the failed citizens’ initiative to restore the Alaska Coastal Management Program. The Alaska Legislature in 2011 did not re-authorize the program.

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