By Libby Casey
Alaska’s Congressional delegation met today with the head of NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – and presented a united front on their concerns about the Endangered Species Act. NOAA director Jane Lubchenco and the new director of fisheries, Eric Schwaab, talked policy in Congressman Don Young’s office.
The Alaskans are concerned about the proposed critical habitat area in Cook Inlet to protect the beluga whale, and other decisions related to the Endangered Species Act.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski says the E-S-A threatens to harm Alaska’s economy.
We could not have imagined that at this point in time we would be as a state threatened by these ESA listings, whether it’s the golden loon or the murrelet or the sea lions, polar bear, etc. and the feeling back home is that we are under siege.
The delegation says they wanted to send a united message, despite their party differences. The one Democrat of the trio, Senator Mark Begich:
If she didn’t leave the meeting understanding Alaska she… we’ll have to have another one. But I’ll guarantee you she understands exactly what our concerns are.
Murkowski: she at least knows we’re all three together on this.
Begich: that’s right, unified position that they… in a lot of ways the overreaching that’s occurred, the lack of science that gives a basis for these decisions.
The delegation says it brought up concerns about the science behind NOAA decisions. They say the agency touts “independent reviews” to make sure the process is fair, but the delegation asked for more details about how those reviews are done. Begich says he thinks they made some headway with Lubchenco on that issue.
The one takeaway, good move on her part, agency, they’re going to look at “independent reviews” that occur on this science, so we understand more of how that operates, is it really independent, have they ever objected to what NOAA has done,
Young: and who they are
Begich: and who they are, and when they object what happens.
Congressman Don Young claims NOAA is using flawed science. He also criticized the state for not taking a big enough role.
The state has to be more active. I’m not passing the buck, but they need to be more active, should be out in front. But they have consistently until Dan Sullivan became Attorney General, taken what the federal government has told them what is right without questioning it. And I question anything they do. I really do. I don’t believe science they use is good. They use the term, she says, best science available. That’s the worst slogan you can have.
The delegation complained that NOAA is too reactive to environmentalist groups and their concerns.
NOAA’s Lubchenco would not comment after the meeting and a spokeswoman said only that it was “productive,” and that Lubchenco looks forward to working with the delegation.