Hands off the Aleutian Islands

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted a nomination to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for a marine sanctuary around the islands in December. It is supported by environmental groups, including some in Alaska, according to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

The idea is to protect 554,000 square nautical miles against “growing threats” from overfishing, oil and gas development, and increased shipping.

NOAA will review the nomination. If it is accepted, it would be placed in NOAA’s inventory of areas that might later be proposed as marine sanctuaries. If the nomination made it to that point, then public input would take place.

While that could take a long while, the environmental groups are hoping to draw this proposal to President Obama’s attention — undoubtedly hoping for a national monument designation.

But this might well lead to the prohibition of offshore oil and gas leasing, regulating transit merchant shipping and expanding protections for endangered species.

If Obama and the federal government responds as the groups desire, then this would be another example of the overreach for which the feds are already criticized. These types of actions fail to involve and honestly consider local and state input.

Alaskans should be aware of this sanctuary possibility, and oppose it from the beginning — now.

01/07/2015 - 1:15pm