Coastal Management Program Talks Fall Apart

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Talks to keep the coastal management program going after July first have fallen apart.   Word came in messages to negotiators this morning that Governor Sean Parnell had decided to suspend talks to resolve the remaining differences between the administration and developers – and legislators representing coastal residents.

After requesting more information, APRN received a terse e-mail message from the governor’s press secretary Sharon Leighow stating, “the governor’s involvement is ACMP negotiations has ended indefinitely.”  Leighow later said the governor felt the talks were at an impasse because the latest version of the bill hinders development – which is counter to what the governor wants to accomplish.   The governor’s point person on the issue, Deputy Commissioner of Natural Resources Joe Balash has returned to Anchorage.

Identical House and Senate bills on the issue are pending action before adjournment on Sunday.  However, Monday, Attorney General John Burns raised concerns over several points in the bill.  Bethel Democrat Bob Herron says today’s talks were set up to look at those concerns.   And Herron says he is not giving up on the issue.

Chickaloon Republican Eric Feige – who was also involved in rewriting the bill – says the most recent version respected what the governor said were principles he would not neglect. Those standards were combined with the wants and desires of coastal communities.

The bills are still in committee, and Bethel Senator Lyman Hoffman says the legislature will continue to look at them.

Depending on the rewritten version that Herron comes up with in the House, Hoffman says he is prepared to work to send the governor the bills that are now on the table.

CORRECTION: We mistakenly said Eric Feige is from Valdez, he is from Chickaloon. We apologize for the error.

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