Arguments for, against coastal zone plan given

The public got a preview Monday of an upcoming series of hearings on a ballot initiative that would re-establish a coastal management program in Alaska.

A news conference called by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in Anchorage featured arguments for and against the initiative that are expected to be delivered during each of 10 hearings on the proposal.

Terzah Tippin Poe, with the Alaska Sea Party, spoke in favor of the proposal, saying Alaskans deserve a say in development decisions, and the program the initiative would establish would aid developers in navigating the permitting process.

The Sea Party is behind the ballot initiative.

Rick Rogers, executive director of the Resource Development Council for Alaska, spoke for "Vote No on 2," a group that opposes the measure. He said the program would not cut red tape and would instead pose an obstacle to development.

The coastal management program lets states put conditions on certain activities on federal land and water. Alaska's program lapsed last year after attempts by lawmakers failed to revamp and save it.

Earlier this year, after the initiative petition was filed, a bill similar to the measure was introduced during the regular legislative session but went nowhere. The Legislature can pre-empt initiatives by passing substantially similar legislation, but some lawmakers and Gov. Sean Parnell said they preferred to let voters have their say on the issue.

The initiative is the first to fall under a 2010 state law requiring at least eight hearings be held up to 30 days before the election that will decide the measure.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, spoke at the news conference.

Millett said initiatives are powerful, and that a goal of the law was to help people better understand ballot measures.

The initiative is set to appear on the Aug. 28 primary ballot.

Treadwell has scheduled hearings around the state next month and plans to run each like a legislative hearing. A summary of the proposal will be given along with a cost estimate prepared by the Office of Management and Budget.

There will be a question and answer period and the public will be given an opportunity to speak, with a dial-in number provided, where possible, to allow people to call in and testify.

He said the state will not bear the cost for representatives of the pro and con sides to address the hearings, which could last at least three hours.

Hearings are scheduled for July 2 in Soldotna; July 3 in Bethel; July 9 in Anchorage and Wasilla; July 10 in Kotzebue; July 11 in Fairbanks; July 12 in Kodiak; July 23 in Barrow; July 25 in Ketchikan and July 26 in Juneau.


06/26/2012 - 7:15am