3-11-13

Today by a 15-2 vote the Alaska Senate passed SB 27, submitted by Governor Parnell, which authorizes the State of Alaska to assume primacy from the federal government to administer the regulatory program for managing certain wetlands.

In his transmission letter, dated January 17, Parnell said “The purpose of this legislation is to provide State authority to develop and implement State primacy of dredge and fill activities in waters and wetlands located within the state, in accordance with the regulating program allowed states under 33 U.S.C. 1344 (Section 404, Clean Water Act). This change will limit federal overreach in Alaska by giving the State authority to make jurisdictional determinations, timely process permits, and allow responsible resource development. Removing a significant amount of wetlands from federal authority also reduces the number of projects requiring an expensive and time- consuming federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, since there would be fewer “major federal actions” associated with these projects.”

Yeas: Bishop, Coghill, Dunleavy, Dyson, Egan, Fairclough, Gardner,
Giessel, Huggins, Kelly, McGuire, Meyer, Micciche, Olson, Stedman

Nays: Ellis, Wielechowski

Excused: French, Hoffman, Stevens

Parnell’s full transmission letter is below:

Dear President Huggins,

Alaskans have the right to have a say over regulation of our own
resources including land and water. To that end, I am transmitting a
bill under the authority of Article III, Section 18 of the Alaska
Constitution, authorizing the State of Alaska to assume primacy for
administering permitting under the Clean Water Act for dredge and fill
activities allowed to individual states under federal law. The current
federal process has resulted in a large number of projects in Alaska
being subject to an expensive and bureaucratic federal permitting
system and litigation, delaying and restricting opportunities for
Alaskans.

The purpose of this legislation is to provide State authority to develop
and implement State primacy of dredge and fill activities in waters and
wetlands located within the state, in accordance with the regulating
program allowed states under 33 U.S.C. 1344 (Section 404, Clean
Water Act). This change will limit federal overreach in Alaska by
giving the State authority to make jurisdictional determinations, timely
process permits, and allow responsible resource development.
Removing a significant amount of wetlands from federal authority also
reduces the number of projects requiring an expensive and time-
consuming federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
process, since there would be fewer “major federal actions” associated
with these projects.

01-18-2013 Senate Journal 0061
There are millions of water bodies and tens of millions of acres of
wetlands in Alaska. State primacy of dredge and fill activities under 33
U.S.C. 1344 is consistent with congressional intent under 33 U.S.C.
1251 that the states have the primary responsibilities and rights in
regulating activities involving lands and waters within their
boundaries.

The legislation provides that the Department of Natural Resources, in
coordination with the Department of Environmental Conservation, will
take the reasonable steps to assume the authority to administer and
enforce any authorized dredge and fill permitting allowed under 33
U.S.C. 1344 (Section 404, Clean Water Act).

Alaska should assume primacy for permitting projects in the state. I
urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.

Sincerely,
/s/
Sean Parnell
Governor

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