(Juneau) - The Alaska State House today unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 22, legislation establishing the Alaska Northern Waters Task Force to coordinate Alaska and federal Arctic marine policy. The House Community & Regional Affairs Committee sponsored the bill.
Alaska has a unique role and interest in the development and evolution of U.S. policy in its northernmost region.
~ Rep. Cathy Muñoz
“As the only Arctic state in this nation,” C&RA Co-Chair Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, said, “Alaska has a unique role and interest in the development and evolution of U.S. policy in its northernmost region.”
HCR 22 would create a task force that would be comprised of legislators from northwest Alaska, leaders from Arctic communities, and key federal agencies. The group would facilitate the creation of a joint state and federal entity to coordinate U.S. and Alaska interests that result from opening Arctic waters for transportation, national security, and resource development.
“Arctic waters are a vastly important resource to local communities, the state and the nation,” Bush Caucus Chair Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, said. “There is no better time than now to create this mechanism for Alaskans’ voices to be included in the discussions taking place at the federal level and beyond.”
“As the melting of the Arctic ice cap continues,” C&RA Co-Chair Bob Herron, D-Bethel, said, “Alaska needs to be at the table in federal and international discussions on how to seize the opportunities of increased Arctic shipping and how to mitigate the negative effects of climate change—effects we are already seeing on the Kuskokwim and Yukon River drainages.”
HCR 22 now heads to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.