Ballot Measure 2: ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’


Photo credit: bdearth

Alaskans will find a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ at the voting booth on August 28th. Ballot Measure 2, the ‘Alaska Coastal Zone Management Program’ (ACZMP) is bad for Alaska!

State versus Federal control is how Ballot Measure 2 is being marketed, but if Alaskans adopt this highly flawed and convoluted Coastal Management Program, who actually gains control?

Measure 2’s sponsor, deceptively named the ”Alaska Sea Party,” argues for state control but their ACZMP is simply an extension of Federal anti-development laws, so what difference would that make? Most conservatives would agree conceptually with state control, but serious problems are presented by this 700+ word initiative, the longest and most complex ever to go before the Alaskan voters.

The Juneau-based Alaska Sea Party’s initiative is advertised as an expanded version of the prior sunsetted Coastal Management Program but really bears little resemblance to it (more on this later). This new version accommodates special interests and adds additional layers of unnecessary bureaucracy to an already complex permitting process — more red tape to effectively delay or prevent permitting for many projects beneficial to Alaskans. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The initiative creates the ‘Alaska Coastal Policy Board,’ consisting of thirteen Governor-appointed members, nine nominated from coastal regions and 4 from state agencies. This may sound reasonable until you realize that veto-proof control would be in the hands of powerful unelected board members unaccountable to the voters. Furthermore, board members would not be required to have any technical or permitting knowledge; rather, they are simply “nominated” by region. ‘Representation’ on the Alaska Coastal Policy Board would result in only two board members voting for three quarters of our state’s population. Or put another way, an overwhelming majority of the board members voting would represent only one quarter of Alaska’s population.

This power shift is made crystal clear when you realize that Anchorage and the Mat-Su combined get one single vote. Nome and its neighboring villages also get one vote. Fairbanks and the Interior get zero votes. But this new board has broad new statewide powers to set statewide resource development policy, even though it would be controlled by a minority of the state’s population. Out-of-control big government and special interest politics is ripening on the vine in the form of Ballot Measure 2.

So what’s the history behind the initiative? In 1972, Congress attempted to address the challenge of continued growth in coastal zones by passing the Coastal Zone Management Act. The Act was administered by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. In 1977, Congress approved Alaska’s first Coastal Zone Management Program. In 2003, the Murkowski Administration pushed through major reforms and added a sunset date to the program. This required the Legislature to either amend or re-authorize the (ACZMP). The program expired in 2011 after a failed compromise advanced by Democrats was rejected by Governor Parnell. Ballot Measure 2 is being pushed in the wake of Legislative inaction, and closely mirrors the legislation advanced by Democrats in June 2011.

The bottom line is that we can and must do better for our children’s future. A Coastal Management Program must be constructed fairly and clearly in order to truly benefit the people of Alaska. We must not paint ourselves into a corner by passing this initiative. Remember, initiatives such as Ballot Measure 2 are veto-proof for two years and are virtually impossible to amend. Measure 2 is bad law and must be rejected by voting No on 2, August 28th.