Representative opposes Cook Inlet habitat designation
by Ted Land
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
JUNEAU, Alaska -- Rep. Charisse Millett hopes the feds will pay attention to what she calls a threat to Alaska's economy.
The Anchorage Republican introduced a resolution on the House floor Wednesday which opposes the designation of Cook Inlet as a critical habitat for beluga whales.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering protecting 3,000 square miles of Cook Inlet, but Millett says this will only harm Southcentral Alaska's economy, as the state would have to meet new environmental regulations.
She also says shipping at the Port of Anchorage would be disrupted.
In October, the National Marine Fisheries Service released its annual Cook Inlet beluga population estimate.
They say the 2009 population of 321 whales is down 54 from the year before, and way down from more than 650 counted in 1994.
They say the population is not recovering as anticipated.
Millett looks at the numbers differently, and points out that in 2005, the population of Cook Inlet belugas was estimated at 278, and last year's estimate of 321 shows a 4 percent yearly increase.
She says the critical habitat is unjustified.
"I think that this is not a good idea. I think it's just a way to slow down development and I really think that ESA's and listings like this are used to a detriment to our state, especially, singled out all the time," Millett said.
House Joint Resolution 40 now goes to the House Resources Committee for consideration.
Contact Ted Land at firstname.lastname@example.org