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Measure 2 will create a big mess for Alaska

  • Author: Dan Sullivan
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published August 24, 2012

Count me among those who believe Ballot Measure 2 must be defeated at the polls on Aug. 28. It would not be good for Alaska. It would not be good for Anchorage.

Its proponents claim it is aimed at giving Alaskans a larger say in development decisions that affect our communities but that is far from true. The measure, if passed, would set up, at a cost of more than $5 million, three new, huge bureaucracies with undefined, unregulated and unspecified powers that would have a tremendous effect on development and jobs in this state.

Instead of communities and individuals having more say when it comes to development such as offshore drilling, or Cook Inlet oil and gas, or port facilities, the voices of Anchorage and the Mat-Su -- both certainly coastal communities, by any standard -- would be muted.

These two areas, containing the majority of the state's population, would get a single vote on the statewide Alaska Coastal Policy Board, the top new bureaucracy. One vote out of 13. That has the effect of giving us even less say about our future, not more, while giving other regions -- Southeast, rural Alaska -- greater influence.

What is worse is that this measure -- aimed at replacing the Coastal Zone Management Program that was allowed to sunset last year by a balky state Senate -- was written outside the legislative process, behind closed doors and without the opportunity for debate, amendment or compromise. Alaskans, who generally favor responsible, intelligent coastal zone management, simply had no say in the creation of Ballot Measure 2.

As others have pointed out, this measure does not make things easier. It does not streamline permitting. It does not cut red tape. It does not ensure well-designed coastal management. It does absolutely nothing to improve things in Alaska or move the state forward.

What it does do is create a new, vast regime of rules and regulations, which will be written long after the Aug. 28 vote and well out of our view.

Alaska Attorney General John Burns says Ballot Measure 2 has "numerous potential constitutional concerns" and "numerous irregularities involving draftsmanship, inconsistencies and ambiguities in the bill itself." Nonetheless, if we pass this measure it will become the law of the land and spawn a storm of litigation as lawyers and courts try to define and redefine the mess. What a mess it will be. For starters, it would create at least 18 new statutory requirements.

All of that could delay or block everything from building a cabin, to constructing roads, to resource exploration, because the new bureaucracies would have the power to require new plans and regulations for virtually anything, including "scenic and aesthetic enjoyment."

Alaskans deserve better. A critical undertaking such as coastal management should be addressed in the legislative process, where anybody and everybody can have their say. Moving ahead with Ballot Measure 2 as it stands now is irresponsible and detrimental.

I urge you to vote no on Ballot Measure 2.

Dan Sullivan has served as mayor of Anchorage since 2009.

By DAN SULLIVAN

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