I’m writing to you as a coordinating team member of the Alaska Climate Alliance, and also as SEACC’s climate guy. Alaska’s budgeting process is one part wonky, one part political brinksmanship. Many of us don’t have the time or inclination to keep up with its intricate ins and outs. But starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. and continuing through Friday afternoon, all Alaskans can call the legislature and weigh in. The Senate Finance Committee is taking public testimony tomorrow and Friday on the budget recently passed by the House.
That budget embodies practically all of the issues in state politics, the size of the dividend, funding for education, ferries, you name it. No matter what your priorities are, I really really hope you’ll call in and use your voice. The call-in information for your region is at the bottom of the email, but I want to Zoom in on one of our highest priorities. We only have two minutes to testify, so I’m going to keep my explanation brief and focus on a simple bait-and-switch because we’ll have to be brief on the phone tomorrow too.
Replace 404 Primacy with Renewable Energy
The current budget includes $5 million for the state to take over something called “404 Primacy.” 404 is the section of the Clean Water Act that the EPA used to veto Pebble recently, and if the state takes over 404 Primacy, it will be able to permit projects like Pebble all over the state. But worse, it’s actually going to cost the state way more than $5 million, it’s going to be a huge, expensive boondoggle that will tie the state down in lawsuits and paperwork. In short, it’s a waste of money.
The Renewable Energy Fund, by contrast, has saved communities and the state of Alaska upwards of $160 million dollars every year for years by funding clean, affordable renewable energy projects around the state. Unfortunately, the current version of the budget only includes a pitiful $1.4 million for the Renewable Energy Fund (REF). That’s a shame.
The single best change the Senate could make to this budget is moving that $5 million away from the boondoggle that is 404 Primacy, and moving it into the Renewable Energy Fund — a proven winning investment.
How to Testify
Senate Finance is taking testimony by region over Thursday and Friday. You can testify in person at your local legislative information office or call. If you’re dialing from a number with Juneau prefixes dial 907-586-9085. If you’re dialing from a number with Anchorage prefixes, call 907-563-9085.
Everyone else can dial toll-free at 844-586-9085 (this number does not work for Juneau or Anchorage prefixes).
Here’s when you can testify by region:
- For Juneau, Southeast, Prince William Sound, & Kodiak hearing begins at 9 a.m. Please sign up to testify by 10:15 a.m.
- For Fairbanks, Interior, and Copper River Valley, the hearing begins at 1 p.m. Please sign up by 2:45 pm
- For Nome, Bethel, Kotzebue, Utqiagvik, Unalaska, Dillingham, and Offnets, the hearing begins at 9 a.m. Please sign up by 10:15 a.m.
And last but not least, for Anchorage, Mat-Su Valley, and Kenai Peninsula, the hearing begins at 1 p.m. Please sign up by 2:45 p.m.
- If you can’t call in — write the Senate Finance Committee at [email protected]!