Group forms to contest coastal management initiative

A new organization has formed to challenge the Coastal Management ballot measure, and make sure the Alaska Sea Party efforts get challenged before voters decide the issue in August.

“Up until now this has been kind of a one-sided discussion,” said Willis Lyford, spokesman for the “Vote No on 2” committee, which organized last week.

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said the Alaska Sea Party welcomed the conversation.

The Vote No on 2 group outlined its likely campaign strategy in its announcement last week, saying the measure is “confusing, poorly written and easily could hamstring development activities statewide.”

Lyford said members of Vote No on 2 generally supported having a Coastal Management program, just not the overly expansive one proposed by the initiative campaign that began last year.

“Our group is not opposed to all coastal zone management, we think there is a place for responsible and effective management of our coastal resources,” he said, calling the initiative “a real step backwards.”

Kerttula said the initiative to restore the Coastal Management program allows Alaskans to safely and efficiently develop their coastal areas, which happened for years before the Legislature failed to renew Coastal Management last year. At the same time, it gives Alaskans a say in federal activities in the state.

“That’s the beauty of coastal management, it cuts through red tape,” she said. “Without it you are going to have federal agencies making decisions for Alaskans.”

It is not clear what the initiative-sponsored program will do, Lyford said. That’s because the regulations to implement it won’t be written until after it is created, if voters in fact adopt it.

Under the initiative, the program is “undefined” and “open ended,” making it difficult to warn voters about what powers it could take on.

“You never know what you don’t know,” Lyford said.

Kerttula said if the Vote No on 2 group found it confusing, she’d be happy to help them understand it. The initiative recreates the program Alaska once had, which worked well, she said.

“I’d be happy to sit down and explain it to them,” she said.

She may get a chance to do that soon. Both the Alaska Sea Party and the Vote No on 2 committees have been invited to address the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s Thursday luncheon.

Kerttula said she’s likely to be representing the Sea Party there, facing off against one of the Vote No on 2 co-chairpeople, Kurt Fredriksson of Juneau.

The two will likely need little information from each other on Coastal Management. Kerttula once represented Coastal Management as an assistant attorney general with the Alaska Department of Law, while Fredriksson is a former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation who spent most of his career in coastal zone management.

Other leaders in Vote No on 2 are fellow co-chairwoman Judy Brady of Anchorage, a former Department of Natural Resources commissioner, Lorna Shaw, director of external affairs for Pogo Sumitomo Gold Mine, and Treasurer Cheryl Frasca, director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Municipality of Anchorage.

Lyford did not say how much the group planned to spend, but said they’d be soliciting contributions from the oil and gas, mining, hotel and tourism and service industries, all groups that could be affected by Coastal Management.

06/14/2012 - 1:14pm