Begich: Alaska needs to step up for leadership role in time of climate change

• Senator talks down Frankenfish, champions ports
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

Photo provided - Sen. Mark Begich took a tour of the Endeavour jack-up rig Sunday

Photo provided - Sen. Mark Begich took a tour of the Endeavour jack-up rig Sunday

Alaska’s climate change conditions mean new opportunities for shipping and a need to develop ports and harbors around the state, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told a Homer group on Sunday.
“Oil and gas development means we will need a fleet of ships to service supplies. Our ports are undersized to handle it,” he said. Equipment like icebreakers and a greater Coast Guard presence further north are needed.
“I will work to ensure the Coast Guard and NOAA have the personnel, ships, icebreakers and infrastructure they need to accomplish their missions which are critical to our nation’s commerce and security,” he said.
Begich came for a Homer afternoon visit at the Kachemak Bay Campus to talk about his work in the senate. In foreseeing the impacts of a changing environment, he believes Alaska’s ports are woefully unprepared for the demands of the future.
Support industries currently located in Seattle will need to “move up” or Alaska businesses need to step up. This is good job creation.
“There are 100 ships in Seattle and we need them here,” he said.
Homer’s Port and Harbor projects are getting a closer look from Begich as he advocates on behalf of gaining more infrastructure funding. While here, he took a tour of the harbor and the Endeavour jack-up rig.
He is also launching a war against genetically engineered salmon known as “Frankenfish,” a term he coined. Genetically engineered salmon would be banned under legislation introduced by Begich, who is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard.
He introduced two pieces of legislation. The first would make it illegal to produce, sell or ship GE salmon in the U.S., unless NOAA finds it would have no significant impact. He is the lead sponsor of the bill, called the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States.
His second bill would require any GE salmon product to be labeled as genetically engineered, a proposal the FDA has rebuffed.
“Alaska has been supplying the world with nutritious salmon for decades,” Begich said. “We cannot afford to experiment with the world’s largest wild salmon stocks without the certainty that these fake fish won’t pose a serious environmental risk, especially to wild salmon and their habitat.”
His work educating Washington D.C. colleagues involves discussions on what a changing climate means.
“A lot of them don’t realize America owns an ocean (off Alaska) and that ocean is changing,” he said.
Challenges like the tsunami debris hitting Alaska’s beaches is another matter that he has had to educate Washington about – funding for clean-up was voted down.
“Marine debris is a slow devastation. If we wait five, six or seven years, it will be beyond our ability to handle it. We need to highlight that on a national level,” he said.
People have a tendency to “think today about today,” but planning Alaska’s changes economically 20 years ahead is what policy makers should be discussing. Limiting discussions to oil and gas development and tax policies, and the state’s dependence on federal jobs, leaves the state vulnerable, he said.
Begich was asked about the Environmental Protection Agency’s report on Pebble Mine.
“It’s a huge challenge for them. They have a huge EPA challenge ahead of them. I have no problem with the EPA doing its job. What’s wrong with the EPA telling them ahead of time, ‘Here are the problems you have,’” he said.
Usually, a company finds out after-the-fact what the EPA objections are, after the money has already been spent. “This is one time you will see the list ahead of time.”
Begich also came out against any legislation that seeks to require additional voter identification.
“Anytime you have that, it suppresses the ability to vote,” he said. He will be talking to Gov. Sean Parnell and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell about their lawsuit against the Justice Department. Alaska continues to have its elections monitored by the Justice Department because of past discrimination, such as continuing to refuse to supply translators for Alaska Native language-speakers. Begich may try to help facilitate with that conversation.

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Posted by on Feb 13th, 2013 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses for “Begich: Alaska needs to step up for leadership role in time of climate change”

  1. oil and gas man says:

    “Oil and gas development means we will need a fleet of ships to service supplies. Our ports are undersized to handle it,” he said. Equipment like icebreakers and a greater Coast Guard presence further north are needed.

    Well, here you go, now they openly admit they work to get money to pay for infrastructure to support oil and gas. We all kinda figured out they work for corporate profit, so why pretend?

    The politicians have Big plans for Homer’s port? Does it matter what we want??

    from another article:
    “It was a big deal when Homer’s port ranked No. 1 in statewide priorities”
    http://homertribune.com/2013/02/harbor-readies-for-brighter-economic-outlook/comment-page-1/#comment-109939

    I must be so nice for oil and gas companies to have a government who listens and works for them, putting money down on their projects where needed. What a wonderful state, of,by and for corporations.

  2. who do they work for? says:

    “Oil and gas development means we will need a fleet of ships to service supplies. Our ports are undersized to handle it,”

    So now they just openly admit they work to supply infrastructure for corporate profit.

    Begich joins Parnell to declare Homer’s port number one priority….why?

    Does it matter that there were people living in this community here….before you all discovered this area as your latest gravy train since Asia started paying double for natural gas?

    Why don’t we just rename the place “Oil and Gas’s Homer’…Conoco High, Buccaneer Middle School, Enstar Visitor’s Center…

  3. Kim Terpening says:

    I am a life long Democrat and gun owner but I cannot support Begich until he modifies his stance on sensible gun control. He is NOT in favor of banning assualt weapons and high capacity magazines.. one of the few democratic Senators who has taken that stand. Shame on you Senator Begich

    • raised by wolves says:

      Kim, maybe you didn’t notice this is about oil, not guns, but probably it’s good for people to know he has taken stands that the people do not want … especially on the oil and gas stand against the wishes of the people in Homer. Why are the people in Alaska ignored by the government? What part don’t they understand, the “N” or the “O?”

  4. raised by wolves says:

    “Alaska has been supplying the world with nutritious salmon for decades,” Begich said. “We cannot afford to experiment with the world’s largest wild salmon stocks without the certainty that these fake fish won’t pose a serious environmental risk, especially to wild salmon and their habitat.”

    One oil spill … we won’t be supplying real salmon or genetically engineered salmon to anyone. All fish will be toxic. These politicians are toxic.

  5. franks says:

    All the above comments make me laugh so hard that I spit out my coffee, Whaaa Whaaaa Whaaa. Let me see… Do you think this town would exist if this state didn’t produce and export petroleum products? Halibut charters will be down to 1 fish in 2014 and you’ll start to see this town drying up and withering away. I guess you think the fisherman delivering halibut to your port will support your schools. Petroleum brings money to this state and in-turn through profit sharing, money to your beloved Homer. Lets just stop producing oil and see the umemployment rate climb to over 30%. Oil just doesn’t bring ships to your port. It’s a trickle down all the way to the kids stocking shelves in Safeway. I’m not going to preach to a community who wants to live off of the people who work for a living.
    And the comment on guns. I can lay a bazooka on your kitchen table. That bazooka is not going to kill anyone until some mentally disturbed person decides to use it against people. Guns don’t kill. People kill people. Why don’t we ban Alcohol? More people are killed everyday by drunk drivers than by people shooting people. All I have to say is look at Chicago. That city has the toughest control laws in the nation. Oh by the way, 43 people we killed last MONTH in Chicago using guns. I guess that proves your point that we need tougher gun laws doesn’t it. Good grief.

  6. confused says:

    Yes, Alaska needs to step up, but we can’t even step up for a simple bill that would prevent dumping waste in our Alaskan waters by cruise ships.

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