Lt. Gov. Mallott talks Arctic policy, climate change during Nome visit

Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott steps offstage after giving his opening speech to those gathered at Kawerak’s Leadership Summit. (Photo by Gabe Colombo/KNOM)

Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott steps offstage after giving his opening speech to those gathered at Kawerak’s Leadership Summit. (Photo by Gabe Colombo/KNOM)

Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Gov. Bill Walker’s administration has taken steps recently toward a climate change action plan.

Just this week, Mallott was in Nome for Kawerak’s Leadership Summit, but also, he says, to discuss Arctic policy.

“During the prior federal administration, the Obama administration, what was called the Bering Sea Resilience Area was established, a series of executive actions by the president. And it’s important to note that all of that was begun by local leadership in the region taking the initiative to ask the federal government to be responsive to a rapidly changing Arctic, a rapidly changing Bering Sea.”

Through his talks with Kawerak on Tuesday, Mallott revisited the idea of a local Native council on climate change, which previously existed along with the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.

The lieutenant governor believes that a group like the Bering Intergovernmental Tribal Advisory Council should be formed again:

“The role, the place, and the involvement of the Native community, I think, can add to the growing response to climate change and be a somewhat unique and leading voice; in being able to describe existing impacts, be able to inform policy making, informed by what they see out of their front windows.”

Mallott has seen through many front windows in Western Alaska, so to speak, since he entered into State office. The lieutenant governor recently visited Nome in August for the arrival of the Crystal Serenity, but he also recalls a visit when he and Walker held an inauguration celebration in Nome.

“We were in the parade, marching and having fun and talking with folks. All of sudden someone said: ‘Hey, there’s no one watching the parade,’ and someone else said ‘That’s because everybody in town is in the parade’ … and that was so fun. The governor and I just kind of stopped marching in one place and made our way through the crowd. It was wonderful and kind of uniquely Alaskan.”

After leaving Nome this time around, Mallott hosted a roundtable meeting back in Anchorage which featured oil industry employees, environmentalists, and local community leaders.

The group discussed their efforts to curb climate change, while assisting in the development of the Walker-Mallott administration’s action plan on the subject, which could be released later this year.

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