March 6, 2013
Parnell/Legislature ‘streamline’ permitting, Water down public comments
March 6, 2013
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Governor Parnell and Alaska lawmakers take the ‘stream’ out of streamlining. More after this —
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What the Governor and Legislature call ‘streamlining’, others call pulling the teeth out of Alaska’s laws. The Alaska House on Monday passed a measure which will ax the entire statutory scheme for in stream flow protections by removing the rights Alaskan Tribes and residents currently have to protect water in salmon streams. It would remove the ability of individuals or groups to apply for water reservations in order to maintain or protect certain water levels for fish habitat protection.
Proclaiming “that Alaskans deserve more timely, consistent permitting decisions” Parnell said he introduced HB 77 to streamline the permitting process. In his transmission letter to House Speaker Chenault [attached below] Parnell outlined that the bill “reforms the current land exchange statutes to simplify the procedure for DNR to authorize exchanges. It would modify the Alaska Water Use Act and modify the procedures for appeals from DNR decisions. The bill also modifies and clarifies public notice and comment procedures for certain best interest finding decisions and ‘small changes’ that otherwise streamline existing procedures of DNR.” The House passed the measure by a 23 to 14 vote. It now goes to the Senate as SB 26.
In related news: the Alaska Superior Court in late February ruled in favor of the Chuitna Citizens Coalition vs. DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan,. The court ruled that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) violated its own rules by denying Alaskans’ their right to keep water in streams to protect wild salmon runs.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.
Governor Parnell’s transmission letter introducing HB 77:
|The Governor’s transmittal letter dated January 17, 2013, follows:
“Dear Speaker Chenault:
Alaskans deserve more timely, consistent permitting decisions, and the
bill I transmit today is designed to better accomplish those ends. Under
the authority of Article III, Section 18 of the Alaska Constitution, I am
transmitting a bill relating to the Alaska Land Act, including certain
authorizations, contracts, leases, permits, or other disposals of State
land, resources, property, or interests; relating to authorization for the
use of State land by general permit; relating to exchange of State land;
relating to procedures for certain administrative appeals and requests
for reconsideration to the Commissioner of Department of Natural
Resources; and relating to the Alaska Water Use Act.
The permitting functions of State government necessarily balance
protecting the environment with utilization to provide the economic
means for Alaskans to sustain themselves. This legislation encourages
responsible development of our State land and water resources. An
efficient permitting process with clear rules contributes to Alaskan
economic growth and creates more Alaskan business opportunities.
The bill reforms and streamlines procedures for obtaining, issuing, and
appealing permits, leases, best interest findings, and other
authorizations issued by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
particularly concerning land and water. Below is a list of key
provisions of the bill.
Except for the surface coal program, in order to retain primacy, the bill
explicitly authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Natural
Resources to allow an activity on State land through the issuance of a
general permit if the commissioner finds that the activity is unlikely to
cause significant and irreparable harm to State land or resources.
Providing explicit authority for the issuance of a general permit
streamlines the permitting process for activities on State land by
clearly making it unnecessary for each individual to receive a separate
permit for the allowed activity.
The bill reforms the current land exchange statutes to simplify the
procedure for DNR to authorize land exchanges.
It modifies the procedures for appeals from DNR decisions, clarifying
who has standing to appeal and providing for a more streamlined
appeals process. The bill would modify the Alaska Water Use Act to
improve administration of the act.
In addition to these changes, the bill modifies and clarifies public
notice and comment procedures for certain best interest finding
decisions and small changes that otherwise streamline existing
procedures of DNR.
The bill is consistent with the State’s ongoing efforts to streamline
permitting requirements for the public to use and enjoy Alaska’s land
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.