Fish Radio
March 6, 2013

Fish Radio
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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 Alaska Seafood U  is the new school of fish! The online training tool offers Alaska seafood training for employees of retail groceries and restaurants. Learn more at www.alaskaseafood.org

 

 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.

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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

and resources.

 

I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.

 

Sincerely,

/s/

Sean Parnell

Governor”

 

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