Last week Governor Dunleavy’s ill-conceived initiative to have Alaska take over Clean Water Act Section 404 fill permitting for wetlands narrowly advanced after a series of contested battles on the Alaska House floor. Now we need your help to keep this bad idea from making it into the full budget!
Please contact your legislators and ask them to vote to reject any funding for the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) poorly conceived initiative to take over Clean Water Act 404 permitting from the Federal government. Why?
- DEC’s request — an annual $5 million dollars and 32 staff — barely scratches the surface of what the real recurring costs of the program would be. This legislature currently faces a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars — taking on a vastly complicated and extensive program and creating an entirely new state bureaucracy from scratch is not fiscally responsible, and the state has not demonstrated a willingness to fully and adequately fund the DEC during this administration
- Only three states have taken 404 permitting on — although over 20 have considered doing so. Why? Because even in states with far, far fewer wetlands than Alaska, it is widely understood that this is a difficult and very expensive undertaking – one that is currently done at no cost to the state.
- DEC is not up to the job. The agency has already slashed important programs like the ocean rangers program and oil spill response and has experienced significant issues in staffing, having lost many long-term employees and much institutional capacity in recent years. Given an anticipated lowball, shoestring budget, permitting across the agency could soon suffer significantly and Alaska’s essential fish habitat could be subjected to permits that are not protective of the foundation of Alaska’s commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries.
- Expensive lawsuits are a certainty and could tie up the state in court for years. Alaskans care deeply about the land and waters we depend on and will not be shy about litigating with an agency that has as poor a track record as the DEC.
Southeast Alaska’s fish, habitat, salmon, and residents deserve better than to have to watch the state mismanage essential Clean Water Act protections. Contact your legislators — in the Alaska State Senate and the House of Representatives — and the Alaska Senate Finance Committee — [email protected] — and call on them to reject this budget item.
Thank you for standing up for Alaska!