Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alaska's Prop 2 - Why Have Alaska Miners Association and Shell Each Spent As Much To Defeat Prop 2 As The Yes Side Raised Altogether?

Here are the basic parts of this post:
  • The Context of US Coastal Zone Management Programs
  • Supporters and Opponents
  • Money Raised
  • My Take On What's Going On
  • Finding Out More
Very briefly, after the legislature and governor in 2011 failed to renew the coastal zone management program that was initiated in Alaska in 1976,  a group of citizens and officials from coastal communities across the state have put a measure on the ballot to reestablish the program that every other coastal state and territory in the US are part of. 

Alaska's governor opposes most federal regulation of Alaska on the grounds that we know best what we need. But when local Alaska communities make the same argument about the feds and the state, he dismisses them.  He doesn't really seem to be as much concerned about local needs and power as corporate needs and power.  The real issue, it seems, is that the former Conoco-Phillips lobbyist in our Governor's mansion, is against anyone having the power to raise questions, slow down, or, even worse, stop any development.  We should all, the opponents seem to be saying, trust the developers to do the right thing. 

The Context of US Coastal Zone Management Programs

The Coastal Management Program was set up in 1976 by Gov. Hammond, the governor who fought to establish the Alaska Permanent Fund.  Hammond was a governor that most people agree had Alaskan people as his top priority.

Local powers were reduced by new legislation introduced by Gov. Murkowski in 2003.

In 2011 the program expired when the legislature and Gov. Parnell could not agree on specific legislation to renew it.  [This history comes from the Alaska Sea Party website which supports Prop 2.]

Coastal Management programs exist under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act established in 1972 (under Republican president Richard Nixon) and all the states and territories with coast lines - Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes - have programs affiliated with the Act.  Except Alaska which is supposed to have more coast line than all the others combined.  From NOAA's website, here is the list of states and territories with links to their programs.  (I checked them all.  Only Alaska has withdrawn.)

Alabama Alaska American Samoa
California Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Guam
Hawaii Illinois Indiana
Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi New Hampshire New Jersey
New York North Carolina Northern Mariana Islands
Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico Rhode Island South Carolina
Texas Virgin Islands Virginia
Washington Wisconsin

Supporters and Opponents

You can learn a lot by who supports and who opposes something. 

Prop 2 Supporters

The Alaska Sea Party which set up and backs the initiative is led by Juneau's mayor Bruce Botelho.  Its list of supporters include local mayors from around the state and other citizens who tend to stand up for the benefit of Alaskans.  People like Alaska Constitutional convention  member Vic Fischer and former state senator Arliss Sturgulewski.  You can see a  list of Prop 2 supporters here.  These are people who tend to represent the needs of their local communities.

Prop 2 Opponents

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce President Rachael Petro signed the Statement in Opposition in the State Ballot Guide.  The list of Prop 2 opponents from a No on Prop 2 website is a list of developers, chambers of commerce, and industries supported by strong Outside interests (Cruise industry, Mining, Oil and Gas). 

Comparing the websites of the Yes and No sides offers an interesting contrast. I have only fact-checked a few points so I can't vouch for everything, but the style of the two sides is so enormously different that it tells you a lot.

There are lots of complaints about the language and reach of Prop 2, but little or no acknowledgment of the need for the program at all or the kind of changes that would make it more reasonable.

The Sea Party website (pro Prop 2) is long and detailed with factual statements that can be easily tested.  Conclusions are in generally neutral direct language supported by facts.

The No on Prop 2 website appears to be put together by the same sort of lucrative PR firm.  (The expenditure reports shows they've paid Porcaro Communications over half a million dollars.)   It's light on facts and heavy on slick visuals and unsupported and inflamatory generalities like this header on all their pages:
Ballot Measure 2 is a defective, deceptive measure that would create confusion and legal uncertainty, establish a new government bureaucracy and hamstring the state’s economy and job creation.

Money Raised 

This information comes from the July 31, 2012 APOC reports for No on Prop 2 and The Alaska Sea Party

No on Prop 2 - Total raised $767,995.31.  
Contributors giving $10,000 or more (all these were June and July 2012) You can see the No on Prop 2 APOC report here:

Alaska Sea Party (Yes on Prop 2) - Total raised $150,122.07 
[Contributions below were between April 1, 2012 and July 31, 2012, Income of $63,688.86 was reported for this period.  I can't find information on the source of the $86,433.21 income received before this period.  All but one $100 contribution have Alaskan addresses.]  You can see the Alaska Sea Party APOC report here.

Contributors giving $10,000 or more:

North Slope Borough - $15,137.97
Bristol Bay Native Corp  - $10,000

Note that the Alaska Miners Association and Shell have each contributed as much as the Alaska Sea Party raised altogether.  While I haven't found a list of members of the Alaska Miners Association, if the other mining contributions is an indication, their membership includes many huge multi-national mining corporations.  

The numbers here are from the APOC reports.  I have only double checked them, so there may be some minor errors but nothing, I think, that make a significant difference to the overall impact. 

My Take On What's Going On

This is about large corporations, many if not most headquartered outside of Alaska, opposed to regulation.  After 25 years in existence, Alaska's Coastal Zone Management program was weakened by the Murkowski administration in 2003.  The Parnell administration was able to end it by fighting with the legislature over the wording of legislation to renew the program.  Alaska is now the only coastal state without a program affiliated with the national Coastal Zone Management Act.  A group of coastal communities have come together to reestablish the program that gave them some meaningful input in decisions by larger corporations that would affect their way of life. 

We have a governor who is fighting the feds on all fronts because, he argues, we have the right to make the decisions that affect our state without the federal government interfering.

But when it comes to local government, our governor thinks the state knows best and local governments should have no say on what happens to their communities.

The real issue, it seems to me, is that this former oil company lobbyist (Gov. Parnell) doesn't want anyone, whether it's the feds or local people doing anything to interfere with corporations and businesses making money in Alaska.

Finding Out More

  • Check out the Alaska Sea Party Website and the No On Prop 2 website.
  • Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAH) website that maps out the Coastal Management Act and the programs around the country.
  • Check out the Alaska Voting Guide.  The online link is packaged differently from the hard copy that was mailed to Alaska households.  In either case, this is hard to read.  Here's an overview of the pamphlet that came in the mail.
    • Pages 20-21 - Ballot Language - this is the summary that appears on the ballot
    • Pages 21-22 - Legislative Affairs Summary - Legislative Affairs tends to give non-partisan analysis
    • Pages 22-27 - Statement of Costs - this was prepared by the Governor's Office of Management and Budget.  I can't vouch for their estimates.  The Governor strongly opposes this measure.
    • Pages 27-37 - Full Text of the Law - you can check both sides' claims against the actual wording of the law, though you can't always understand the implications from the wording
    • Page 38 - Statement of Support
    • Page 39 - Statement of Opposition 

I had been getting hits for Alaska Prop 2, which were going to the 2010 post on the Prop 2 that year which was about parental notification before a minor could have an abortion or the 2008 post on Prop 2 for that year which was on aerial wolf hunting.  Thus I decided I should do a post for this year's Prop 2.  I haven't had the time I'd like to do a better job on this, but the primary election (when this is voted on) is in less than two weeks (August 28) and people can vote early already.  So I need to get this up. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Steve!
    Need to read at more of the links you have pulled together here .
    Sure appreciate this .
    I note that my Regional Corporation, CIRI, has donated 10K to the con side while BBNC has donated 10K to the pro side. I keep looking for position papers/statements from CIRI on this and can't. If anyone does/has can you please advise of the "where" ?
    Mostly agree with you about the current gov's approach. We are a state which planned for maximum local control in our Constitution and this gov is working every angle possible at the state level to block that , including opting out of local input in coastal management schemes. I find myself thinking he assumes he will be able to continue to tie the Feds up in knots in court while ramming through development we have serious concerns about but have been blocked from being part of the decision process. So tired of this. So tired of this governor.
    Alaska Pi


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