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DC: Entire Alaska Delegation Tells NOAA of Overreach Concerns

NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco is swor...
NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco is sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Draft Environmental Impact Study Is “Flawed,” “Troubling,” Not in NOAA’s Expertise

WASHINGTON, DC – Press Release released 2:41 PM (13 hours ago)

Alaska’s Congressional delegation today met with NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, raising concerns about a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the effects of oil and natural gas activities on the Arctic Ocean and highlighting the importance of exploration and development in the region.

The DEIS addresses how noise and other possible impacts from exploration and development affect marine mammals and fish in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.  The delegation raised concerns that the final EIS could create a set of further timing and spatial restrictions beyond those already listed in the leases held by oil companies.

“I understand the importance of NOAA’s role in ensuring explorers in the Arctic avoid conflicts with marine mammals but, as it stands, the DEIS is flawed and goes beyond the agency’s mission and expertise,” Senator Lisa Murkowski said.

“I appreciate Administrator Lubchenco taking the time to hear from a united delegation on this pressing issue,” said Senator Mark Begich. “We all understand that marine mammals are important, but the document, as it stands, is flawed. I believe she understands that and am encouraged about our prospects to improve it moving forward.”

“As I made clear to Administrator Lubchenco today, this document – as written – is not only troubling to me, but to the entire Alaska delegation,” said Representative Don Young. “Moving forward, it’s important that this document advances not hinders responsible development in the Arctic, and after today’s meeting, Administrator Lubchenco understands our concerns.”

In particular, the delegation noted that the most aggressive possible alternative in the DEIS would not allow leaseholders Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil to engage in simultaneous exploration drilling in the Chukchi Sea. They also asked Administrator Lubchenco to commit to stronger inter-agency cooperation before moving forward with the document.

Additional info from the senate.gov domain distributed via email 4-17-2012


Murkowski’s Committee Work Advances Alaska Fisheries, Safety Needs

Senator Adds Provisions in FY 2013 Appropriations Bill for Key Alaskan Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski secured provisions in the FY2013 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) bill through her position on the Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee that will result in resources for Alaska.  The provisions security by Murkowski cover the concerns of Alaskans from safe, sound fisheries to protecting Alaska’s most vulnerable populations statewide, whether from crime or tsunamis.

The bill passed out of subcommittee today and heads to the full Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday.

“When we talk about investments in our natural resources, unless you are a coastal state you forget fisheries are a crucial natural asset and economic driver,” said Murkowski during the committee’s discussion of the budget. “We need to know and understand our fisheries through stock assessments, and this requires an investment even in tight and austere times.”

Alaska’s Fisheries and Coastal Communities benefit from:

  • $68.7 million for fishery stock assessment funding – to ensure the collection of adequate and timely fishery data.
  • $31.8 million for regional fishery management councils, which Senator Murkowski has called the “workhorses of the regulatory process for fisheries,” as they revise management plans to end overfishing and rebuild fish populations.

Coastal and marine spatial planning receiving no funding after Senator Murkowski ensured that federal monies will not be provided for the program.

  • $23.5 million was added to the bill for the U.S. Tsunami Warning System.
  • $27.5 million for ocean mapping efforts to make meaningful progress on the extensive survey backlog for areas off Alaska where marine charts are based on technologies as primitive as lead lines.
  • $65 million to support the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund for conservation of the region’s salmon populations.

Alaska’s Police/Justice concerns benefit from:

  • $61 million for youth mentoring programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs.
  • $247.5 million for the community oriented policing (COPS) program that boosts community law enforcement on the state, local and tribal levels.
  • $38 million for drug courts that provide rehab services and compliance checks of abusers.
  • A Government Accounting Office (GAO) study of Justice Department policies, particularly the payment of legal fees incurred by prosecutors charged with misconduct and the Justice Department’s track record in disciplining prosecutors who are found to have engaged in misconduct.
  • A commendation for Alaska’s effective sex offender crackdown through “Operation Last Frontier” – a partnership between the United States Marshal Service and Alaska State Troopers to combine law enforcement with community outreach.  It has resulted in over 500 compliance checks, including those in the most rural villages.