RDC provided comments last month on a federal policy proposal regarding the interpretation of “significant portion of range” as it applies to implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
RDC members are significantly and directly impacted by the implementation of the ESA, noted Executive Director Rick Rogers. “The preponderance of recent and pending listings of species and distinct population segments in Alaska is compounding the challenges of responsibly developing and appropriately managing the natural resources of Alaska that are critical to Alaska’s economy,” he said.
The implications of the draft policy are complex and profound, Rogers explained. He said the draft policy is troubling and just one in a seemingly endless array of policy directives, guidance documents, and rulemakings coming from a multitude of federal agencies.
“Such an approach flies in the face of this administration’s stated goals for more regulatory efficiency, increased domestic energy production, and economic recovery and job creation,” Rogers said.
“Imposing additional burdens on commerce, communities, landowners, and industry for no public benefit cannot be aligned with congressional intent for protecting species and in the long term can only serve to undermine public support for species protections afforded by the ESA,” Rogers warned.
The proposed policy applies protections across the entire species range when only a portion of its range warrants protections. RDC strongly objected to the listing of a species throughout its entire range, rather than looking to the portion of its range where the species is actually at risk. Please see full comments at: akrdc.org.
State intervenes in navigable waters case
U.S. Federal District Court Judge Russell Holland has issued an order recognizing the State of Alaska’s interest in challenging federal authority over State-owned navigable rivers and submerged lands.
The state is now a party to a lawsuit by plaintiff John Sturgeon, an Anchorage resident challenging the authority of the National Park Service to regulate activities on State-owned waters within national parks and preserves in Alaska. Sturgeon is an RDC board member from the forest products industry.
Citing National Park Service regulations, park rangers have prevented Sturgeon from operating his hovercraft on the Yukon and Nation Rivers within Yukon-Charley National Preserve. The Yukon and Nation Rivers are navigable, State-owned waterways, and hovercrafts are legal under Alaska law.
Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the State says Park Service regulations cannot be applied to State land or water that lies within national parks and preserves.
“My administration will continue to aggressively push back on federal overreach, and efforts to control Alaskans’ ability to travel on rivers and waterways,” Governor Parnell said. “I am pleased the court recognized Alaska’s strong interest in this issue over the objections of the federal government to our participation in the case.”
Feds finalize new Forest Planning Rule
In late March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized a new Forest Planning Rule that will require mandatory components to restore and maintain national forests and grasslands, including requirements to protect plant and animal diversity, wetlands, watersheds, water quality, ecological integrity of riparian areas, fish and wildlife, and outdoor recreation. It also provides multiple uses, including timber harvesting.
The rule essentially revises policies guiding land and resource management planning for all units of the National Forest System under the National Forest Management Act of 1976.
The new rule reflects the Forest Service’s most recent effort to revise the regulatory framework for developing, amending, and revising land management plans for the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in America. The Service’s proposal is just the latest chapter in a protracted and torturous history associated with the Service’s planning process.
Unfortunately, the draft rewrite continues the pattern. “The proposal is a thinly-veiled attempt to shift the USFS’ mission from managing the responsible use of National Forest System resources to other purposes,” said Holly Propst, Executive Director of the Western Business Roundtable. “That makes it legally suspect. Further, the rule fails on regulatory efficiency grounds. It, too, promises to be costly, complex and procedurally burdensome.“
In earlier comments on the issue, RDC warned that the Forest Service, through the new rule, is attempting to unilaterally shift its mission by simply redefi ning what “multiple use” means. Of particular concern is the inclusion of an expansive and vaguely-defined category of obligations defi ned as “ecosystem services.”
RDC comments and testimony online
Over the past two months, RDC has filed comments on a wide range of federal and state issues and testified at numerous hearings on legislation and big projects spanning Alaska’s resource industries. There were far too many hearings and issues to cover them all in this edition of Resource Review. However, comments and testimony are available online at akrdc.org.
Testimony was presented on oil production tax reform, litigation reform, the creation of the Susitna State Forest, resource education in public schools, AIDEA Sustainable Energy Program, legislative approval of a Bristol Bay Sulfide Mine, oil and gas tax credits, the plugging of legacy wells in NPR-A, the DEIS on Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean, NEPA-CEQ Draft Guidance, the Susitna Hydro project, Point MacKenzie rail extension, and the Shadura Natural Gas Project, and more.
RDC Annual Meeting set for June 21
John Hofmeister, President of Citizens for Affordable Energy, and former President of Shell Oil Company, will be the keynote speaker at RDC’s 37th Annual Meeting Luncheon Thursday, June 21 at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage. The luncheon is one of the largest business functions held in Anchorage annually, attracting over 1,000 attendees.
Hofmeister is a frequent energy commentator on CNBC. Upon his retirement from Shell in 2008, Hofmeister founded the not-for-profit nationwide association, Citizens for Affordable Energy, which promotes sound U.S. energy security solutions for the nation. He has held key leadership positions at General Electric, Nortel, and Honeywell.
Coal Classic Golf Tournament is June 13
Alaska Resource Education’s 20th Annual Coal Classic Golf Tournament will be held on Wednesday, June 13 at the Anchorage Golf Course. For sponsorship and participation information, please call 907-276-5487, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: akresource.org.
Return to newsletter headlines