Governor Sean Parnell is working to change what he sees as the direction of federal management of wetlands in the state. In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, the governor objects to new guidelines for wetlands permitting and management – which he says expands the reach of their current jurisdiction. Deputy Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro says the guidelines will have the same impact as formal regulations – only they are being written in a much less-formal manner. He says the government is writing tests that will be applied to determine their authority over public or private lands — and they are being written to expand the amount of land it calls wetlands.
Ruaro says the federal agencies are also defining wetlands within the “guidance” they are preparing. He sees those definitions as vague, based on U.S. Court decisions that are not clarified by federal statute.
Ruaro says he anticipates a decision on how the federal agencies will proceed by this fall. He says Alaska and seven other western states are watching the process and will decide then whether to take any action.