Posted by Alaska_Politics
Posted: June 28, 2011 - 3:25 pm
From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
Gov. Sean Parnell says he will veto the bill keeping the state's coastal management program alive if the Legislature passes it.
“He said he would veto the bill in its current form,” said Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow.
Parnell said at a Resource Development Council luncheon in Anchorage today that it’s too late to meaningfully save the program, which expires on Friday if the state doesn't act before then.
The state House is in a special session in a last ditch effort to keep the program alive.
The Senate last night passed the bill and is now waiting on the House to act.
But Parnell said all but five of the 33 employees in the coastal management program have left for other jobs because the Legislature could not agree on a compromise to keep it alive during the 90-day regular session that ended in April or a month-long special session that immediately followed.
“The reality is that ACMP is decimated. There is no physical ability at this point with existing personnel to meaningfully process consistency review applications,” Parnell told the Resource Development Council crowd.
He said jobs would be lost if oil or mining projects were held up because they had to be reviewed by a coastal management program with little staff. The oil and gas and mining trade associations are also lobbying against the bill.
Legislative supporters of the program say Parnell is to blame to the mess, and that he hasn't been engaged in finding a solution. They say the state could figure out how to make it work, perhaps having other agencies do review work on permits until the coastal management program can be restaffed.
Parnell said he was engaged in trying to find a compromise during the regular legislative session this spring but the Senate rejected it after it unanimously passed the House.
Senators said it was too weak and didn't really represent a compromise.
They wanted a version that provided more local input into resource development decisions, and that factored in "local knowledge" when the decisions were being made.
Alaska has had a coastal management program since the 1970's under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.
Alaska would be the first state to ever drop the program, which provides state input into federal activities.