Saturday, April 28, 2007

Alaska State House rejects climate change mitigation opportunity

The State of Alaska Executive Administration seems to be beginning to take climate change seriously with its creation of a sub-cabinet level group to recommend ways to reduce carbon emissions.

This goal is what House Concurrent Resolution 56 asked the governor to do, only the Legislature passed this resolution in 1989. There has been no action taken on this during the past 18 years. At the time, I had proposed a blue ribbon commission, but HCR 56 is what it turned into.

The Alaska House of Representatives no longer seems concerned about reducing climate change when they have a chance. Reggie Joule's Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission thus far refuses to do more than talk about the impacts and how to deal with the impacts from such things as coastal communities flooding, changing patterns of game, forest fires, pest infestation, permafrost and polar ice caps melting. They don't actually want to recommend anything to prevent these things from happening.

And last week, the House passed HB 229 to provide up to $2.6 billion in tax free bonds to transport coal to the Kenai for gasification, while defeating an amendment by Rep. Les Gara to insure that this increased coal burning would be at least no more harmful than the alternatives. Interestingly, the text of HB 299 justifies these bonds on the basis of being for an essential public and governmental purpose.

The final bill passed unanimously. And so onward to the Senate for its consideration.

Some legislators argue it wasn't the right vehicle to do something on climate change, but there's always some reason. Let's just get started. The longer we wait, the more it will cost to mitigate, with implications only starting to be considered.. Even China is starting to act. Of course they did sign the Kyoto Accord, not like us.

And to follow it up, a number of lawmakers and the governor are opposing listing the polar bear as endangered, as the polar bear habitat on the sea ice is diminishing. They are afraid it would slow oil and gas development, but so grasp at the false assertion that the science doesn't demonstrate the iconic bears and a candidate for the state quarter aren't at risk. Another assertion is that the Endangered Species Act is the wrong vehicle to address climate change. Folks, we need to use whatever tools we have - you've provided no other. And as if we don't get enough bad national press from hunting wolves ....

Years from now, the younger generations will be asking "What WERE they thinking?".


Post a Comment

<< Home