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Without coastal program, Alaska's at feds' mercy

Paul Jenkins is a good corporate soldier. His flame-throwing rhetoric has for years defended some of the biggest corporations on the planet, usually at the expense of everyday Alaskans.

But it can be tricky serving as a corporate mouthpiece.

In his latest screed against the EPA for studying the effects of mining on wild Bristol Bay salmon around the Pebble mine, he writes: "Why not let Alaska do its job? Why not recognize Alaska's right to deal with its resources under its constitution?"

On first reading, you'd think Paul was a dyed-in-the wool states' rights advocate, willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with Alaskans in a principled stand against an oppressive federal bureaucracy. But you'd be wrong. Because Paul has also been a loud and boisterous opponent of Ballot Measure 2, which would restore Alaska's once-proud coastal management program.

The coastal management program is the only law that requires the feds to listen to Alaskans in coastal development decisions. Gov. Frank Murkowski gutted the program in 2003, then Gov. Sean Parnell and a handful of politicians killed it in 2011.

Without a coastal program, the feds could, for example, put a fish farm off our shores and Alaskans would have no legal means to force the feds to listen to us. The corporations are vastly outspending everyday Alaskans on Ballot Measure 2, because they don't want Alaskans to have a seat at the table for coastal decisions. Their tactics are familiar: fear and misinformation, backed with massive spending to saturate our airwaves and stuff our mailboxes.

On Aug. 28, don't be fooled by the corporate money or their mouthpieces. Vote yes on Ballot Measure 2 and restore our rightful role as Alaskans in decisions that affect our jobs and families along our magnificent coastline.

Bob Shavelson is director of advocacy for Cook Inletkeeper, a citizens environmental watchdog group.