Austerman Working Behind Scenes to Save Coastal Management

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Maggie Wall/KMXT

Kodiak Representative Alan Austerman is making another effort to save the beleaguered Alaska Coastal Management Program which many say is a key piece of legislation that ensures coastal communities have a say in development in federal waters.

Austerman proposes that the legislature call itself back into special session for the purpose of renewing the current coastal management program for a few years so that it doesn’t fade away, and to allow time for legislators to hash out issues.

(Coastal Management 1 :2 "I’m asking … look at it then.")

Legislators had a melt down over the budget process during the recent special session called by Governor Sean Parnell. The coastal management issue got caught up in the dispute and failed to pass. However, lawmakers did consider calling themselves back into session to handle the issue-if they were able to come to an agreement before going back into a second special session. Negotiations fell through, and now the program is in danger of dying on June 30:

(Coastal Management 2 :31 "The majority of the … is interested in going back.")

Austerman explains that the coastal management program affects any development that would take place in federal waters that the state needs to have input into. The program mandates that local communities have a seat at the table when decisions are made:

(Coastal Management 3 :42 "Without the coastal … not have a seat at the table.")

While people in Kodiak might think it’s great to have a voice at the table for issues that might adversely affect the fisheries, Austerman points out that there are a lot of others with other interests that must be considered:

(Coastal Management 4 :48 "From the 1970s … come to agreement.")

Austerman said he has polled all 20 senators and 40 representatives and is still waiting to hear back from many of them.

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