Alaska News

Gov. Walker looking at reviving state climate change policy group

The administration of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is examining whether to revive a dormant group of officials dedicated to developing the state's climate change policy, a top administration official said Monday.

The group -- officially known as the "Climate Change Sub-Cabinet" -- was created by former Gov. Sarah Palin but stopped meeting when her lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, succeeded her in mid-2009.

News that the panel had gone dormant was greeted with disappointment and derision by environmental advocates at the time.

Members of Walker's transition committee were "very interested" in resurrecting the group, Craig Fleener, Walker's Cabinet-level Arctic policy adviser, said in an interview Monday. In March, a group of high school students urged Walker to create a task force on climate change to replace the sub-cabinet.

Fleener, in a presentation at the Department of State's GLACIER conference on the Arctic in Anchorage on Monday, mentioned the work of the sub-cabinet. In an interview afterward, he said the Walker administration is "looking at whether or not we want to reinvigorate it."

"The work it's done is going to come back," Fleener said. "It may or may not come back as a sub-cabinet."

The sub-cabinet, as convened by Palin, consisted of the state's commissioners of commerce, environmental conservation, natural resources, fish and game, and transportation.


In a 2009 report, the group issued a series of recommendations involving study of climate change impacts, identification of communities at risk, and developing organizational structures to help those communities adjust.

"It was a very important group because it provided the space to have discussions about climate mitigation and adaptation," Bob Shavelson, the executive director of the environmental group Cook Inletkeeper, said in a phone interview Monday. "For the Walker administration, it would seem like some of the easiest, low-hanging fruit that they could pursue to start having these important conversations again."

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at