State lawmakers riled up over federal actions

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Saturday, January 31, 2015 10:29pm
  • News

JUNEAU, Alaska — One Alaska state senator is advocating an act of civil disobedience against the federal government and another referenced Alaskans “packin’ heat” at the end of a poem skewering federal actions.

The pushback against federal overreach continues at the Alaska Capitol, days after President Barack Obama proposed that most of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be protected as wilderness, including the refuge’s potentially oil-rich coastal plain. That proposal likely faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Congress. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and chair of the Senate energy committee, has said Obama is “going after something that is not possible in this Congress. But I think that this president doesn’t care.”

It is that feeling — that the federal government is dismissive of what Alaska wants, and the state’s rights — that is helping fuel the furor coming from state political leaders, who see the refuge proposal, even if symbolic, as another example of the feds overreaching and trying to restrict the ability of the state to develop its resources.

Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, said in an interview Friday that the state needs to do more than issue proclamations. “And what will that be? We’re working on some things,” he said.

The legislature has been on the record in the past, endorsing oil and gas development from the coastal plain. A resolution opposing wilderness designation of the coastal plain was introduced in the Alaska House this week.

Dunleavy said the state should begin surveying a road through a wildlife refuge to connect King Cove to an all-weather airport at Cold Bay, a road the Interior department rejected. The lawsuit over the department’s decision is pending.

“I’m not willing to wait much longer; I’m not willing to wait any longer, actually,” he said. “I say we call their bluff. And if they want to throw the governor and a couple of us in handcuffs, let’s see how that goes over with a bunch of our friends in the Western states, a bunch of our friends that believe that the government in D.C. has gotten out of control.”

Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, said people are upset, and lawmakers don’t want to let the issue die.

“I don’t know if we’re going to go to civil disobedience yet, but there are some people who would like to go there,” he told reporters.

During a floor session Friday, Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, delivered a takedown of federal actions in Dr. Seuss style. “You bow to greenies, these are facts,” he said at one point. “Environmental East Coast whacks.”

“Just one more thing before I go, there’s something, Uncle, you should know. The line’s been crossed, we’ve had enough. You shouldn’t really call our bluff,” he said. “’Cause we Alaskans might seem sweet, but chances are, we’re packin’ heat!”

Bishop said later that it was just a poem and an attempt at levity. He choked up in describing the importance of the issue to him.

He said he wants to protect Alaska’s resources for all Alaskans. He said he plans to do more, to “myth bust.”

“I just want equal time and an honest debate, that’s all,” he said.

More in News

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Snow falls atop the Central Peninsula Diabetes Center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The office opened in October, but a grand opening was held this week. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital adds Diabetes Center

The center has been seeing patients since October and held a grand opening Monday

Gary Hollier pulls a sockeye salmon from a set gillnet at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Findings from pilot setnet fishery study inconclusive

The study sought to see whether shorter nets could selectively catch sockeye salmon while allowing king salmon to pass below

Most Read